An Elephant In The Garden is narrated by Lizzie, an elderly woman in the day of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It is the tale of her extraordinary adventure in the midst of war. She grew up in Dresden, the carefree daughter of a middle class family. But despite her father’s rule that politics are left at the door and are not to mar family life, the reality of Nazi Germany leaks into the house. With Lizzie’s father fighting in World War II, her mother takes on the job of a zoo keeper to provide for her family. As Lizzie turns into a typical temperamental and understandably angry teenager, her mother, Mutti, becomes especially attached to an orphaned elephant, Marlene.
When Dresden in bombed, Mutti, Lizzie and Marlene flee the burning city and head for safety. Along the way they meet a Canadian navigator, Peter, who becomes their confidante and guide; a homeless boy choir, a big-hearted Countess and the Allied Forces.
It’s a great, sweet story that doesn’t go too much into the horrors of the war and I think would be enjoyed by children aged 9-12; it tackles difficult issues without hitting too hard. Alison Reid is an energetic, absorbing narrator that pours her heart into it. She manages to keep her audience absorbed throughout and even when she is describing violence and utter devastation she manages to keep an optimistic outlook. It was slightly slow at times and both the characters and the end were predictable enough, but then again I am not the target audience.