Say Michael Morpurgo to any nine year old girl or boy and it’s bound to bring a smile to their face. Mr Morpurgo is iconic in the world of children’s literature; his ability to charm his way in to so many lives of children is astounding and I must say he always brings a smile to my (almost) adult face.
His latest piece of fiction ‘Elephant in the Garden’ is a treasure. I read it in manuscript form (feeling very important) on the train to London and was completely submerged and finished it in one journey. The story is told by an old lady with a great story to tell. Now living in a care home she has few to tell the story to, except little boy Karl who listens with open ears…as you will too.
Her story follows elephant Marlene who is at risk of being shot as the second world war escalates in Dresden. With air raids happening left right and centre it’s up to the zoo controller to shoot all the animals so they don’t escape from the zoo. Horrified at this Elizabeth, her mother and her brother Karli welcome Marlene into their family and together they face the trials of an air raid, travelling through the harsh German winter and facing adversity and finding new loves in the face of the enemy.
This book is split between two narratives as Elizabeth recalls her story and we merge history with present. This is a charming story which will warm your heart and personalise the war as we learn the story from a German family. After all, everyone has an elephant in the garden!