The Elephant Girl (Hardcover)
July/August 2022 Kids Indie Next List
“Jama shares her heart with Mbegu, caring for her safety and well-being. She finds solace in her elephant friends when humans let her down, and the relationship that blossoms is one with mutual respect and thoughtfulness at the center.”
— Honor Ford, The Doylestown & Lahaska Bookshops, Doylestown, PA
#1 bestselling author James Patterson and award-winning author Ellen Banda-Aaku deliver an unforgettable story of a girl, an elephant, and their life-changing friendship—perfect for fans of The One and Only Ivan, Pax, and Because of Winn-Dixie.
Clever, sensitive Jama likes elephants better than people. While her classmates gossip—especially about the new boy, Leku—twelve-year-old Jama takes refuge at the watering hole outside her village. There she befriends a baby elephant she names Mbegu, Swahili for seed.
When Mbegu’s mother, frightened by poachers, stampedes, Jama and Mbegu are blamed for two deaths—one elephant and one human. Now Leku, whose mysterious and imposing father is head ranger at the conservancy, may be their only lifeline.
Inspired by true events, The Elephant Girl is a moving exploration of the bonds between creatures and the power of belonging.
“Emotionally thrilling and richly satisfying.” – Kirkus Reviews
“This powerful novel …is thoroughly grounded in Jama’s bravery, moral strength, and genuine love for the animals that share her home.” – Publishers Weekly
Ellen Banda-Aaku is an award-winning author and producer. She has lived, studied, and worked in Ghana, South Africa, and Zambia, and currently lives in the UK with her two children.
"Patterson and Banda-Aaku’s well-developed, vividly set story is thoroughly grounded in Jama’s bravery, moral strength, and genuine love for the animals that share her home."—Publishers Weekly
“Inspired by real events, this story vividly depicts Kenya as it explores the relationship between humans and animals. Readers will be inspired by Jama’s courage and root for her and Mbegu’s future.”—School Library Journal