Reading/Interest Level: Primary, Intermediate
Author: Linda Oatman High
Lily is a fun-loving, twelve-year-old girl who has lived a relatively uneventful, but stable, life with her father in West Virginia. Her mother left both of them to pursue her dream as a trapeze artist when Lily was just three years old. Lily's grandfather wants desperately to share his fondness with Lily of his favorite elephant Queenie Grace, his circus companion and endeared pet. She is big and gray and friendly, but to Lily she is an ominous creature who is potentially dangerous. However, the unbearable loss of her grandfather after he suffers a terrible heart attack and her introduction to a young boy who has an ailment of his own cause her to rethink her position. She may, indeed, need the friendships of both to endure the days ahead, and they may need hers.
This unique story is told by alternating Lily's voice with that of Queenie Grace's. The author allows this vast creature to share her thoughts and feelings directly with the reader, in order to feel the elephant's grief, joy, and longing for human relationships. The author’s use of rich figurative language helps further develop the connection between the reader and the characters in this heartwarming story. High's writing style enables the young reader to traverse through the pages of this novel with both speed and clarity. It's easy to follow and lacks the complexity apparent in some of its kind. In many respects it parallels that of Katherine Applegate's style in The One and Only Ivan. The predictability of plot is possibly the only shortcoming of this sweet story. The author leaves little room for surprise at times when it could be used entice the reader further.