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Elephant Run by Roland Smith

Elephant Run

by Roland Smith

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Set in Burma during WW II on a timber plantation, the novel follows young Nick Freestone adventures when his mother sends him out to Burma where she thinks he will be safer than in London during the Blitz. As he arrives there on Christmas Eve, 1941, he is quickly involve in the Japanese occupation of Burma and specifically on the plantation his father manages,

When his father is captured and put in a prison camp, young Nick is held as a hostage to ensure his father doesn't try to escape. His female friend Myr is also a hostage to ensure her brother will continue to manage the elephants the Japanese are using to build an airfield. Nick is helped in his quest to free his father by a Buddhist monk named Hilltop and a Japanese soldier named Sergeant Sonji who is appalled by what his fellow soldiers are doing to the Burmese and to the Allied soldiers they are using to build a railroad through Burma. At the risk of death, he helps in the escape of Nick's father from the prison camp.

The title of the book comes from the use of elephants in the harvesting of timber in Burma. The reader learns how the elephants are trained to work for their masters who are called mahouts. While Nick's experience with elephants is limited, his friend Myr wishes to become a mahout though women are not permitted to be trained in that occupation.

This a fast moving adventure story written for young adult readers which will also educate them on a little known battle front in WW II and also about the use of elephants in Burma to do the heavy lifting in road building and timber harvesting. ( )
  lamour | Aug 16, 2016 |
RGG: Story of a young English boy during Japan's invasion of Burma in World War II. The culture of the mahouts and their trained elephants is fascinating.
  rgruberexcel | Aug 29, 2015 |
A strange and interesting take on WWII rarely seen. ( )
  benuathanasia | Jan 2, 2015 |
Best book in the world! ( )
  ddewulf | Mar 28, 2014 |
Nick is a fourteen year old American boy living in London, who is caught in the fire of WWII. His mother, fearing for his safety from the falling bombs, sends him to live with his father, who owns a teak plantation in Burma. But the reach of the war proves too much, and Nick again finds himself in harms way as the Japanese seek to extend their influence throughout all of Southeast Asia. Through his struggles, Nick comes to see many examples of the goodness of humanity amidst the horrors of war, and ultimately realizes the importance of family in his life.
When Nick first arrives in Burma seeking refuge from the bombs of the Axis forces in London, he is a typical overweight teenager. He has not seen his father for over two years, and is elated to be near him again. Unfortunately for Nick, his arrival in Burma coincides with the Japanese infiltration and subsequent takeover. His father, as a member of the British group that originally colonized the Burmese, obviously does not support the Japanese attempts to take over Burma. So when Nick arrives, his father is unavailable to him because he is working day and night to try to use his influence to slow down the Japanese advance. We learn early on that Nick’s father, while a wealthy land owner descended from the original colonists, supports Burmese independence.
When Nick arrives in Burma, his father is off on important business, and welcoming him is left to a young Burmese woman named Mya. She shows him around the property, and he learns of her love of elephants. In Burma at this time, elephants are used to harvest the teak trees, thus those who train the elephants to do the work (mahouts) are considered very important members of society. Mya’s great-grandfather, Hilltop, was one of the original two mahouts who worked on this plantation and is considered a living legend, respected by all in the region. Mya also shares his gifts for working with and training elephants but is restricted by her gender. Women are prohibited from doing that sort of work, even if their abilities surpass that of their male counterparts.
Not too long after Nick arrives at the plantation, the Japanese military invade the plantation. They plan to use the area to construct a strategic airfield. Nick’s father and Mya’s older brother are sent to a work camp, while Nick, along with the rest of the Burmese workers, are put to work in various capacities serving the new holders of power. Nick and Mya are locked in at night and rarely see the outside world. It is during this period that Nick begins to grow and become a strong man. He must undergo beatings and works all day, in constant fear for his life. Hilltop is a great aide to him, showing him secret passages in the house, and modeling for him a posture of strength and forbearance. Mya’s situation is also dire because one of the Burmese men who has risen to a position of relative power by falling in with the Japanese, has set his sights on making her his wife.
As the situation at the plantation becomes more and more unstable, and they begin to sense that their lives are in danger, Hilltop insists that they make an escape for India, the nearest place not occupied by the Japanese. But Nick refuses to go without his father, and Hilltop finally consents to try to rescue Nick’s father from the work camp. While they are there, they will also try to rescue Mya’s brother. The rescue effort takes many twists and turns, but they do finally get Mya’s brother and Nick’s father out of the work camp. After a final tense scene where a mad elephant kills the two remaining men who are seeking to re-imprison them, they are free to go on their way.
The last chapter is set in Australia a few years later. Nick, his father, and Mya are living on a farm raising cattle. For Nick’s birthday that year, his father flies in his Mom and Mya’s brother to see them.
  davetomscholten | Jan 19, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)

Gr 5–7—As German bombs fall on London, 14-year-old Nick is sent to Burma to live with his British father on their teak plantation. Unforeseen in this plan is the impending invasion that puts them, along with the locals, under Japanese rule. Nick is forced to work on the plantation for the brutal commanders and his father is placed in a labor camp. The boy's predicament escalates as his trust in the Burmese employees who once worked for his father is challenged by their newfound loyalty to the Japanese. Escape through the jungle, with the help of a well-respected monk and great-grandfather to the boy's new friend Mya, is the only way out. This novel is filled with intrigue, danger, surprising plot twists, and suspense. It's a well-developed historical adventure with villains and heroes that describes aspects of British colonization, forced occupation, and World War II.—Rita Soltan, Youth Services Consultant, West Bloomfield, MI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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When Nick Freestone was young, he and his mother lived on a farm in Kansas.
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In 1941, bombs drop from the night skies of London, demolishing the apartment Nick Freestone lives in with his mother. Deciding the situation in England is too unstable, Nick's mother sends him to live with his father in Burma, hoping he will be safer living on the family's teak plantation.

But as soon as Nick arrives, trouble erupts in this remote Burmese elephant village. Japanese soldiers invade, and Nick's father is taken prisoner. Nick is stranded on the plantation, forced to work as a servant to the new rulers. As life in the village grows more dangerous for Nick and his young friend, Mya, they plan their daring escape. Setting off on elephant back, they will risk their lives to save Nick's father and Mya's brother from a Japanese POW camp.

In this thrilling journey through the jungles of Burma, Roland Smith explores the far-reaching effects of World War II, while introducing readers to the fascinating world of wild timber elephants and their mahouts.
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Nick endures servitude, beatings, and more after his British father's plantation in Burma is invaded by the Japanese in 1941, and when his father and others are taken prisoner and Nick is stranded with his friend Mya, they plan a daring escape on elephants, risking their lives to save Nick's father and Mya's brother from a Japanese prisoner of war camp.… (more)

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