Seree's story by Irma Gold & Wayne Harris

cover image
The lovely scene on the front cover of a family group of elephants will make the story inside all the more devastating as younger reader learn of Seree, kidnapped at just two years old, and put into a circus. Her life becomes one of loneliness and betrayal as she is taken from her family and the mushy banana she loves pulling from the trees. 
She was made to perform three times a day, throwing darts at a balloon, kicking a soccer ball and dancing on her hind legs. In between she was chained and alone, rocking from side to side in her stall. She lived like this for years, dreaming of her mother, her aunts and grandmother in the herd she left behind. But one night three people came in with treats she had not tasted for a long time, they whispered promises in her ear and put her aboard a truck. When she stepped from the truck she could smell the fresh air and the flowers and fruit from her past. She spied other elephants and finally she heard her mother. She was home at last.
This story parallels the lives of many elephants taken from their herds and put to work. Many are beaten into submission, chained for the rest of their lives, not allowed to lie down and sleep. Some work many hours a day in the illegal forests in Thailand, while others ferry people and are used as entertainers like Seree. 
The vivid illustrations parallel the story, showing Seree content with her family, unaware of the life she will be forced to lead. The images show elephants in their habitat, part of a herd, doing things as a group, always reiterating the close contact a group of elephants has with each other. Little wonder elephants in captivity sway from side to side.
Information at the end of the book gives facts about the elephants and their endangered status in Asia. Once plentiful their herds have been reduced by two thirds, through habitat loss, killing, capture and illegal use. In Thailand only 2000 now live in the wild with an estimated 2000 in captivity. The author, Irma Gold is an ambassador for the Save Elephant Foundation and puts her heart on her sleeve in this heart warming story. Seree means freedom and is an appropriate name for a little elephant who dreams of her home while forced to live away from her family. Classroom ideas are available.

Themes Elephants, Environment, Family, Circus, Captivity.

Fran Knight