Singing With Elephants

singing with elephants

Anybody out there know what it's like to be teased for being different?  It's so easy to find a difference if you really want to, isn't it?  Puff yourself up and reassure yourself - hey I'm better than that person over there with all their differences.

That's where Oriol  is - she's standing in the "person over there with their differences" place.  Born in Cuba, speaking Spanish and still learning English, she's a ready made target.  So she looks for sanctuaries in her world - those special places where people or animals reside and accept others for the value they hold inside.

Oriol's parents work at a veterinary clinic where they saved the injured and sick animals who come to them for help.  That's one of the places where Oriol feels she belongs.  It's where she makes friends with an amazing elephant named Chandra who teaches Oriol about the power of humming.  What a lucky girl - making friends with an animal who sees into her and knows how good she is.

Oriol also discovers she belongs with her new neighbor, Gabriela Mistral, a world-renowned poet and peacemaker.  Gabriela holds some answers to some of Oriol's biggest questions and she holds a mirror up to this lovely young girl so she can begin to see herself and find the power of her voice.

Oriol needs the power of her voice and the power of her determination to do what's right when she discovers a baby elephant has been separated from its mother just days after its birth.  Where could it be?  How could anyone do such a heartless thing?

Told in verse the story follows Oriol's journey of self discovery at the same time it beckons each reader to her/his/their own journey of self discovery.  As Oriol finds her voice, the message that each of us needs to do the same, whispers its way into our own conscious mind.

Yes, Oriol has some growing to do. She needs to learn how to deal with her feelings and her fears.   She has some self acceptance to do.  She needs to do some elephant saving.   If you loved The One and Only Ivan - and who didn't - you'll find a new friend here.

Animals don't deserve cruelty at the hands of human beings.  Human beings don't deserve cruelty at the hands of human beings either.

A gorgeous, deeply caring story about newly born elephants who need love and milk and mom and about young girls who need to learn to see themselves, honor themselves, celebrate themselves and find their own power and their own voice ...their own powerful difference to make a difference.

Highly Recommended:  Barb Langridge,




A powerful novel in verse from Newbery and Pura Belpré Award-winning author Margarita Engle about the friendship between a young girl and the poet Gabriela Mistral that leads to healing and hope for both of them.

Cuban-born eleven-year-old Oriol lives in Santa Barbara, California, where she struggles to belong. But most of the time that's okay, because she enjoys helping her parents care for the many injured animals at their veterinary clinic.

Then Gabriela Mistral, the first Latin American winner of a Nobel Prize in Literature, moves to town, and aspiring writer Oriol finds herself opening up. As she begins to create a world of words for herself, Oriol learns it will take courage to stay true to herself and do what she thinks is right--attempting to rescue a baby elephant in need--even if it means keeping secrets from those she loves.

A beautifully written, lyrically told story about the power of friendship-- between generations, between humans and animals--and the potential of poetry to inspire action and acceptance.---from the publisher

224 pages                                        978-0593206690                                        Ages 8-12

Keywords: novels in verse, elephants, Latina, Latina author, Cuba, immigrants, bullying, acceptance, friends, friendship, poet, animals, finding your voice, 8 year old, 9 year old, 10 year old, 11 year old, 12 year old, power of words

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