An Elephant in the Garden

An Elephant in the GardenWritten by: Michael Morpurgo

This elephant in our garden was going to change my life forever, change all our lives. The bombing of Dresden looms ahead and Lizzie’s mother, a zookeeper, persuades the zoo director to allow Marlene, a young elephant that has bonded with Lizzie and her younger brother, Karl, to be kept safe in their garden.
Their home is destroyed when bombs are dropped, so the family and Marlene have no choice but to flee with thousands of others in the dead of winter. Though how can they walk the same route and keep themselves safe from approaching Russian soldiers…with an elephant in tow?

The summary is from the back cover, published by Square Fish.

I love books about heroic acts that attempt to save animals and what could be more glorious than saving an ELEPHANT in the middle of a war?! The story is told by a German woman in an American nursing home, reminiscing about a major event in her childhood during WWII. She is a very kind woman and having her narrate is the perfect way to tell this tale that is inspired by a true story. While it is always interesting (and important) to see a different view of a historical event, I most enjoyed reading about the everyday lives of the people who lived through the actual battles in Germany.

Discussion/Project Ideas:

1.  Choose a character from the story and put yourself in his/her shoes for one of the scenes.  How would you act?  What would you think?  What would you do the same and what would you do differently?

2.  The person in charge of all the animals at the zoo had a very difficult decision to make.  If you were that person, would you have made the same decision or would you have done something else?  If you would have done the same thing, list and describe at least three other reasonable choices that you think should have been considered.  If you would have made a different decision, describe your plan in detail, as if you were leaving directions for someone else to follow.

3.  Write a scene of what you think would happen if Lizzie’s family every reconnected with the rural relatives that supported Hitler.

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