Hi guys, Aidan here with the first of my summer reading recommendations.
Chained, sounds like it might be sad, especially when you see the picture of a young Indian boy standing by a small elephant on the cover, but it is a book about friendship, courage, kindness and not giving up.
We are introduced to ten-year-old Hastin when his sister is sick and his mother is forced to work for a family that is unkind to her. To free his mother Hastin takes a job far from his family as an elephant keeper.
I felt the author did a good job of bringing both the marketplace and the jungle to life and really liked the way she gave descriptions an Indian twist, like “it feels like a python is squeezing my chest” and “she grows smaller and smaller, her face just a dot of cinnamon.”
I also liked that the author gives you lots of interesting information about elephants. While we were in India we learned a lot about elephants, including their teeth wearing down and also, of course, all about the tiger trade. I think it’s great that there are books like Ms. Kelly’s who help bring these issues to the attention of children and do so in an entertaining way.
There are some chapters that are hard to read, but the relationship between Hastin and Nandita and Hastin and Ne Min made me want to keep reading. In fact, I read the entire book in one day, it was that good.
If I had any criticism, it would be that I kept wondering if this was set now or in the past as it was hard to tell. I also wish I knew what part of India Hastin came from originally – a part that had desert and camels. However, I highly recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in India, or anyone who enjoys a story about a boy and his elephant.
Thanks so much for the review, Aiden! Good question about when the story takes place– it is modern-day, but because of Hastin’s poverty and because he’s from such a rural area, it seems like it could take place at any time. There are just a couple of clues in the book that hint at the time period, like in Hastin’s first conversation with Timir in the marketplace cafe. When Hastin mentions having to catch an elephant, Timir tries to quiet him down, because he doesn’t want to get in trouble. It’s only been in the past several years that catching an elephant in the wild has been illegal, so if this took place a long time ago he wouldn’t be worried about getting caught.
Hastin is from the northwest area of India, where there’s a large desert. Many areas of India have jungles, where elephants might live in the wild, but I wanted to put Hastin’s home in a place that would be different from his new workplace, so I chose the region that has a desert.
Hello Ms Kelly. Thank you so much for explaining those points. I really appreciate it. Please let me know when your next book is published, I would love to read it. Aidan.