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Elephant Run Hardcover – September 25, 2007


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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

At the height of the London blitz, Nick’s mother sends him to join his father on the family’s remote, ancestral timber plantation in Burma. Her gambit turns out badly: The invading Japanese soon seize the plantation, imprisoning his father in a brutal POW camp, and leaving 13-year-old Nick to endure hardship under Japanese overseers (whose characterizations are less complex than those of the diverse Burmese). As readers will expect from suspense-specialist Smith, Nick faces exciting situations (including several weeks in the estate’s secret catacombs), and details of Burmese politics, spirituality, and daily life weave an alluring backdrop. Some readers, however, may feel disoriented by Smith’s fragmented storytelling style, in which momentum often seems to consolidate around one character or plot development only to move suddenly in an entirely new direction. Still, this offering’s unusual setting deserves attention from historical fiction fans, who will appreciate the window on a rarely discussed theater of World War II. Grades 5-8. --Jennifer Mattson

About the Author


Roland Smithis the author ofZach's Lie, an ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers;Cryptid Hunters;ThunderCave;Jaguar;The Last Lobo; andSasquatch. He lives outside of Portland, Oregon, with his wife Marie, who also writes children's books.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 11 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 6
  • Lexile Measure: 750L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion; 1 edition (September 25, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1423104021
  • ISBN-13: 978-1423104025
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,627,875 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

NYT Bestselling author Roland Smith is a former Zoo Curator and Research Biologist. He has published more than twenty novels for young adults. He and his wife, Marie, who is also an author, live on a small farm near Portland, Oregon.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Deborah on February 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
ELEPHANT RUN is an exciting, historical adventure novel that will appeal to all middle grade readers (and their parents!). In 1941, Nick Freestone joins his estranged father at the family plantation in Burma to escape the bombs falling on England. Instead of finding refuge, he is plunged into the Japanese invasion of Burma. With the help of his young friend, Mya, Nick tries to learn more about the timber elephants trained on the plantation. Mya, a girl who hopes to become an elephant trainer, or "mahout," barely has time to show Nick around the plantation before Nick's father is taken prisoner by the Japanese. With Japanese soldiers in charge of the family home, Nick becomes an unwilling servant of the Japanese. But there are hidden passageways in the house, and soon Mya and Nick have found a way to escape into the jungle, riding on the back of a much-feared rogue elephant named Hannibal.

For readers who've already exhausted the many books about WWII in Europe, this book offers a view of the war in Asia. While the book is mainly about Nick and Mya, readers will see multi-dimensional Japanese, Burmese, and British characters and learn more about life in Burma before and during the war. Issues of colonialism, foreign exploitation, and the desire for Burmese independence are introduced by the various characters who people the story, but the novel is focused primarily on Nick and Mya's need to escape from their Japanese captors. The elephants are part of the story as well, with Hannibal and Miss Pretty representing some of the many elephants trained to work British plantations in Burma.

Fast-paced action drives this story forward, with historical details supporting the action.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By book fair maiden on July 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I am a mother of four children under 14, and always looking for well written historical fiction for my boys. My 10 year old needs the action in a book to start pretty quickly, or he will lose interest. I just finished reading this today, and I can't wait for him to read it. Smith is able to take a fairly complex subject, and make it interesting, and understandable, while teaching the reader a piece of the history of Burma during WWII. By the middle of this book, I could not put it down, I was so anxious to discover the outcome of Nick Freestone's fate. Fantastic!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Chris Gregory on January 9, 2014
Format: Paperback
Roland Smith's account, one of life for a teenage English/American boy in Burma, is marketed as a story for youth. It is indeed an outstanding book for young readers; however, this tale is equally interesting for all ages. Just because the main character is a 14 year-old boy, that doesn't diminish the intrigue of this tale.

At 66 and having grown up listening to World War II tales of Burma from my father, I found this book particularly captivating. My father talked about the elephants, the native Kachin, Chindit, Naga, and Burmese peoples, the Imperial Forces, native built bashas, and the jungle and its wildlife. At 90, Dad also found the book quite riveting.

This account has outstanding character development, scene description, and intrigue. Highly recommended for all ages, 10-90! Elephant Run

Chris Gregory, author, Buckshot Pie, [...] Semper Pi Publishing, semperpi@outlook.com, also as Christopher E. Gregory, Ezine Articles author, EzineArticles.com. Buckshot Pie is another great book about World War II; 5 brothers, one of which was stationed in Burma - 5 brothers, their early years of character development, and their WW II contributions. Available here at Amazon; Buckshot Pie, a Family's Struggle Through Homesteading, the Great Depression, and World War II
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By CharlotteLS on April 24, 2011
Format: Paperback
Elephant Run is one of the best books I've ever read. In this novel, the year is 1941 and Nick Freestone has just moved from his mother's apartment in London to his father's teak plantation in Burma. Relieved to have escaped the German bombings, Nick can't wait to rebuild his relationship with his father, Jackson Freeston, whom he's has little contact with over the past ten years. Their reunion is disrupted, however, when the Japanese take over the plantation and send Jackson to a POW camp. Now a slave to the Japanese, Nick must work with his new friends, Hilltop and Maya to try to escape and rescue both Jackson and Maya's brother Indaw from the camp.
While reading this incredible book, I often found my knuckles white from gripping the pages at intense parts, or a wave of relief wash over me when the protagonists got out of a sticky situation. I have never seen a picture of Burma, I don't even know where it is on the map, but Roland Smith's articulate writing made me feel the humidity in the air as well as the rocking of the elephant's people rode on, and I could easily picture the scenery. I enjoyed the writing immensely!
Elephant Run is an amazing book! Read it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Miss Dalton's Class on February 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This story begins when Germany bombed England. Nick Freestone's mother was worried Nick would not be safe in London. Their apartment was just destroyed and she was responsible for finding a new home for them. In the meantime she decided to send Nick to his father in Burma. Jackson Freestone owned the land of Burma and soon would pass it off to Nick. Though Nick's mother was terrified of the dangers in Burma she thought he would be safer there then in London. So she sent Nick off, but what she didn't know was that Nick wouldn't be back for a long, long time.
Nick made it to Burma and was in the car with an important man of Burma that worked with his father. He hadn't been to Burma in forever and barely remembered any names. In the car as well was the man's daughter, Mya. She was a pretty girl who loved the elephants that lived in the land and wanted to be a Mahout but girls weren't suppose to do that and this always made Mya very sad.
When Nick got to Hawks Nest, the building his father lived in, he looked around but did not see his father. He was gone and was coming back from a trip. All the next day Nick looked around Hawks Nest and the village. He met very important people and learned of the Burmese life. On his way back from exploring he was attacked by the most dangerous elephant, Hannibal. He was dangerous because he was attacked by a tiger and was never the same again.
When Jackson Freestone came back he took Nick on a ride throughout the land. During there ride they were invaded by the Japanese who wished to take over. While his dad, Mya, and Indaw, Mya's brother, were captured he hid and tried to escape when he was later captured by a nicer and older Japanese soldier who was not mean to him. His name was Sonji.
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