Star the elephant by Remy Lai

cover image

Star the Elephant is based on the true story of a small group of Indian elephants that swam across the Johor Strait from Malaysia to a small island off the coast of Singapore after losing their home due to deforestation. In Remy Lai's (Pawcasso) retelling, five-year-old Star and her family have to split up; there simply isn't enough food in any one place to accommodate them all. But when Star and her mum and aunt get back to where they are expecting to find banana trees, they are faced with fallen trees in amongst the sea of palm oil trees. They decide to flee to an island that aunty knows of, but when they get there they are faced with more humans, and because of their experiences to date they are very scared. When Star's mum and aunty are shot with tranquiliser darts Star runs but is eventually peacefully captured and taken to a sanctuary where she is reunited with her family. 

Full-colour illustrations and simple dialogue and narration told within a graphic novel format make this perfect for young readers. However, some of the content, including Star almost drowning, the animals distress as they try to find a safe place and Star being separated from her family is quite confronting. This is one of three already published in the Surviving the Wild series, all of which look at the perils of the natural world and what we can do to protect it. Also included at the end of the story is the true story behind Star's adventure, some elephant facts and ways we can help. This is an important book for anyone to read but will especially be appreciated by children interested in animals and environmental conservation.

Themes: Habitat loss, Deforestation, Elephants, Environmental conservation.

Nicole Nelson