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K-12 Evaluated Resource Collection

Elephant Secret

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Author/Publisher/Website: Walters, E.
Copyright: 2019
Evaluation/Record Entry Date: Nov/2019
Submitting suppliers/Website: Not Available
Primary Identifier: 9780735262812
Recommended Grades and Subjects/Courses: 4-9
(View recommended grades and subjects) English Language Arts

Resource Description

Thirteen-year-old Samantha has grown up with her dad and the elephants that live on their elephant sanctuary. When the sanctuary has financial difficulties a donor offers funding if three elephants can be artificially inseminated but when the first baby is born, Sam and Jack are not prepared for the unexpected offspring and Sam must deal with the shady silent partner’s treatment of the baby at the same time as she deals with her father’s new girlfriend. This engaging Canadian novel deals with conservation, cloning, family dynamics, friendship, and truthfulness, and is suitable for read-aloud, independent reading, classroom or school libraries, and to spark discussion of the key issues.

CURRICULUM FIT

Does the resource support BC curriculum?
Extensively
This product supports the Core Competencies of the BC curriculum:
Critical thinking
Social Responsibility
Comments:
Reading this novel will support the Core Competency of Critical Thinking. Students may be encouraged to examine the issues around cloning and could debate the merits of this practice. The main characters of this novel interact with their animals in a natural environment in caring and respectful ways and this can be explored to support the Core Competency of Social Responsibility. The English Language Arts Big Idea of "Exploring stories and other texts helps us understand ourselves and make connections to others and to the world," runs from grades 4-9 and will be supported through the exploration of this novel.

SOCIAL CONSIDERATIONS

Violence:
A new elephant to the sanctuary, Burma, has previously injured and killed humans.
Ethical:
James Mercury, the silent partner of sanctuary owner Jack Gray, misleads Jack in his intentions for the sanctuary. James clones a woolly mammoth.
Safety:
The young protagonist, Samantha, puts herself at risk of grave physical harm while trying to help the elephants.
Do the social considerations support, rather than detract from, student learning?
Extensively
Social Considerations Comments:
Burma eventually comes to gently eat apples from Sam's hand. James does behave in questionable ways, but he also does good deeds. The duality of his character can provide for rich discussion. These social considerations are acceptable and add depth to the characters and themes of this book.

GENERAL CONTENT

Content
Should this product be identified as Canadian?
Yes
Is the resource engaging?
Extensively
Is the content current for the intended curriculum and grade?
Extensively
Is the content accurate for the intended curriculum and grade?
Extensively
Is the content timely and important for student broad understandings?
Extensively
Audience:
Is the content appropriate to the emotional maturity and cognitive level of students?
Extensively
Does the resource provide opportunities for creative and critical thinking?
Extensively
Can the content be differentiated?
Moderately
Can reading level be adjusted?
Not at all or slightly
Is the level of detail appropriate?
Extensively
Is the language use appropriate to the emotional maturity and cognitive level of students?
Extensively
Comments:
This novel will engage students in the intermediate grades and provide many opportunities for discussion and exploration of many issues, along with the practice of reading and comprehension strategies. As it is a print resource, the reading level cannot be adjusted, but the text could be read aloud to provide access to all students. It is also available as an e-book. Differentiation could come in the form of literature circle discussion and written or oral responses.

TECHNICAL DESIGN

Does the resource make effective use of the medium?
Extensively
Is the resource easy to use?
Extensively
Is the use of font, text size and presentation uniform?
Extensively
Comments:
The text is presented in a clear and consistent font. It is large enough for easy reading. Chapters are clearly identified.

PRINT NOVEL

Does the text show insight into the complexity of the human condition?
Extensively
Does the text broaden students’ experiences and understanding?
Extensively
To what degree is this text stylistically rich?
Moderately
Plot description:
Samantha and her father Jack run an elephant sanctuary. The two of them rely on each other and together they care for eleven elephants. As Sam has grown up on this land, she easily interacts with the elephants and prefers their company to other humans, and especially to Jack's new girlfriend Joyce. As one of the elephants gives birth to an artificially inseminated baby, she passes away, leaving Sam, Jack, and the rest of the herd, broken-hearted. Eventually Jack's silent partner discloses that he had inseminated the elephant with the clone of a woolly mammoth. The fallout of this event has Sam, Jack, and Joyce pulling together to save their family and the sanctuary.
Related Comments:
This educational novel is full of information about the biology and behaviour of elephants, while weaving in the themes of family dynamics, friendship, and conservation. The provocative topics of artificial insemination, cloning, and withholding the truth all contribute to an engaging read.
Genre:
Contemporary
Literary Highlights:
Well-developed themes
Type:
Novel

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS

Readability:
At intended grade level(s)
Comments:
Available as an e-book.

SUGGESTED CLASSROOM USAGE

Comments:
This novel could be used as a teacher read-aloud, to promote discussion of animal refuges or to learn about elephants or caring for animals. In small groups or literature circles, students might explore the various roles of the main and minor characters, and the relationships that existed on several levels. As well, the issue of cloning and the potential it has on future animal species could be debated, as can the principle of animal conservation. This book as part of a classroom library would provide for independent reading for pleasure.
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