Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Child's Elephant” as Want to Read:
The Child's Elephant
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Child's Elephant

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  287 ratings  ·  48 reviews
When Bat, a young African herd-boy, stumbles upon an orphaned baby elephant, he takes her home and pledges to look after her. As Meya grows and learns, she becomes part of Bat's family, and is soon the joy of the entire village. But she can't stay with Bat for ever - she belongs to the wild, and with Bat's help she joins an elephant herd, roaming free on the plains.

Bat ret
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published May 2nd 2013 by David Fickling Books (first published April 25th 2013)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.85  · 
Rating details
 ·  287 ratings  ·  48 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Child's Elephant
Daisy May Johnson
There's a couple of things I need to acknowledge about my reading of The Child's Elephant and it's those that influence my rating and feelings around the book.

This is a glorious big book, but it's also resolutely a book of two halves and it took me two goes in reading to actually complete it. The first time I read it, I think it suffered both from my preconceptions and reactions to it (expecting something akin to a Michael Morpurgo, which is not a bad thing but it is not the right thing for thi
Anthony Burt
May 23, 2014 rated it liked it
This is a difficult book to review. I both enjoyed it and didn't at the same time. It was good, had a lovely storyline (and an endorsement by one of my fave authors Morpurgo), but - to be honest - I felt there were quite a few issues with it.

About a young African boy called Bat, who adopts a baby elephant after its mother is killed by poachers, this is a story of them growing up together, learning their identities, losing touch, him joining a child soldier army and then searching for his elepha
Mar 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was such a gorgeous book to read. The characters, the setting, the storyline was all so intricately woven to make an exciting and memorable read. The descriptions of Bat's home in Africa, of his Grandmother and his village are stunning and really draw you in. I loved the elephants, especially Meya and my heart broke for Bat when he has to let her join the herd and then he and Muka leave her. The brutality and cruelty of what happens to the children is horrendous yet gives the story a gritti ...more
Kyra MacDonald
May 01, 2017 rated it liked it
I thought this was a really good storyline and it all was really interesting. i really liked the setting that took place. Also its a book with many emotions, i loved the animal and human friendship/bond that this book had. I did find it a bit boring at some parts for example the child soldier story line, but other than that i really enjoyed it. I would recommend this book to anyone, maybe a bit more to anyone that likes animals and the friendship between animals and humans.
I find it really hard to work out who this is written for. I read this as part of the 2014 Carnegie Shortlist, the cover is tedious and succeeded in putting off all the 12 year olds in my reading group. They all judged that things were not likely to end well for either the boy or the elephant. They were quite happy to read of disasters affecting humans but the thought that the elephant might be shot, having watched him grow up, was not acceptable. I on the other hand, was loathe to read a book o ...more
Sep 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: teenage
Trigger warnings: Child abuse, Child soldiers

More trigger warnings. I don't deliberately read books like this (I stay away from them if anything) but they just seem to crop up for some reason. And one look at this book, you wouldn't expect to see it. So yeah.

This book reminded me of the kind of book that your teacher has you discuss in class, and thoroughly analyze it, and everyone is in agreement that "This is a really thought-provoking book and really awesome! If you want to be a writer, the
amelia forcina
May 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

😊.😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀 good food good good good good good exciting exciting exciting exciting exciting exciting exciting exciting excitin read this exciting book
Nov 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
A profound and beautiful story. This is a must for readers of all ages and genres.
Rena Brown
Inspiring, rich and beautiful. I was in those places with them.
Apr 28, 2014 rated it liked it
Originally posted on Through the Wardrobe

With a title not dissimilar to a Kipling classic and an endorsement on the cover from the one and only Michael Morpurgo, a certain preconception of this title as a ‘soft’ child/animal relationship story is set long before the cover is opened. Written by a journalist and a charity campaigner however, this novel is far from forgettable. Exploring both the relationship man has with nature as well as the haunting reality of child soldiers in Africa, The Child
May 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
My, what a rollercoaster of a story! I began by holding my breath with wonderment so as not to disturb the quiet, gradual appearance of the savannah in all it's beautiful and detailed glory - animals of all sizes, plants and flowers, heat, dust and luscious water of the rainy seasons. We all know much about the animals we see on safari, but not so much about their surroundings. Rachel Campbell Johnson allows us to sit undisturbed, maybe behind an acacia bush, to view her tale of an African child ...more
One day Bat, a seven-year-old herdsboy in central Africa, stumbles on a group of poachers slaughtering an elephant. Luckily he is as fast and flitting as his tribal nickname indicates, and escapes notice. It is a particularly horrific incident for Bat because his father was an elephant ranger killed by poachers, but it brings a happy result: he finds the elephant’s calf, names her Meya and, with his friend Muka, raises her as a village pet and totem. A tale of human-animal friendship can easily ...more
Katy Noyes
Feb 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars.

"Bang!" An elephant is shot. Unusual start to a children's book, but reminiscent of Bambi, she leaves behind a newborn baby. Bat has been watching nearby and takes the baby home with him. He and his friend Muka struggle to feed it and keep it alive.

The book veers from where you expect though. Adults might be expecting a 'Born Free' emotive journey where the children must raise their calf, see it grow, teach it to live in the wild and finally let it go.

And while that's a big part of the
Jun 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley

Such a wide range of emotions come with this book, I went from pure joy to laughter to extreme despair and wanting to put the book in the freezer! (joke from Friends!). Reading this felt like I was living it too.

This is a story about Bat, a boy who grows up in a little village in Africa, who finds a baby elephant. The book is written in such a vibrant way, you get so immersed in the life of Bat and the African culture it's like you've travelled through a portal into Africa. There are
Stephen Palmer
Feb 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Aimed at a young-to-YA audience, this novel is set in a modern Africa of tribal communities and elephant poachers. Main character Bat rescues an orphaned baby elephant, which, as he grows up, grows alongside him. Eventually the inevitable happens, and Bat is left to live his life without his elephant friend. However, in the second main section of the novel things get a little more unpleasant, with the return of poachers. This is a good book, which I enjoyed reading. I was quite surprised in a fe ...more
Meredith Fletcher
Apr 16, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: review-done, dnf
Please note: I didn't finsih this book as I couldn't carry on because I really didn't like the book

This story is about Bat who lives in a small village in Kenya with his grandmother. The story begins with Bat witnessing poachers cutting away at an elephants tusks. Bat finds the elephants baby and looks after it until it is too big to stay in the village. About halfway through the book Bat and Muka are abducted and have to live with the rebel army.

My favourite character was Lobo as I felt he had
Sally Flint
Jun 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was the last book left on the Carnegie Short List I had to go and what a great read it is. The writer managed to create a wonderful evocative sense of the beauty of Africa whilst showing the plight and innocence of child soldiers. The story is fiction, but the backdrop of Joseph Kony and the child soldier situation in Uganda is real. Reading this is a great introduction and easy way to understand more about the situation. The characters were quite simply drawn, but despite this it was so ea ...more
Jan 14, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya
I wouldn't have picked this one up usually, but it was long listed for an award I follow so I added it to my pile!

I was actually pleasantly surprised. the writing was good, the illustrations beautiful and the topic surprising adult for what i thought was it's target audience! I think the publishers should have branded this book differently as the cobver and title make it look like a Michael Morpurgo book which is aimed at a younger audience.

The stiry was good though, and realistic too. It does w
Oct 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a truly beautiful book.
I have chosen it this year for our school's 'Whole School Read' which is , itself the biggest compliment I could give as I am recommending it to all our 957 students and our entire staff.
The book starts with a rifle shot, out in the savannah. It is heard by a young boy, Bat, who knows straight away this is a sign of something not good. He finds a baby elephant and at first you are captured by his love and affection for this young elephant thinking it may be a lovle
Sep 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kids-books
What an incredible book! I have to be honest, after reading the blurb I was feeling fairly sceptical. I'm not a huge fan of animal friendship books. However, this was so much more than that. The characters were all superbly written, and hugely likeable, though the star of the show was of course Meya the elephant. The author really brought her to life, and she stole the show. My main reason for liking it, though, was the child soldier plot. This made it very different from all other books in this ...more
Nov 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing book that'd i'd encourage everyone to read, and have been massively recommending it too. As far as in concerned any book that opens up peoples minds and takes them to places and situations they knew nothing to little about is a winner, and this does exactly that. When you read it you are transported into that world, where life isnt easy like we have it here and at times horrendous things happen to good people. I dont think its any good recommending away from books like this, a ...more
I could tell from the foreshadowing at the start that this book was going to be both a weepy and a look at the brutality of children being taken as soldiers. I did wonder if I was prepared to go through all that – I think a writer has to earn the right to that sort of story and I’m not convinced she did it for me. Of course, some classics get away with this brilliantly (“Where’s Papa going with that ax?”) and you’re prepared to go on the journey with the characters. I guess my discomfort was tha ...more
Barbara Band
Mar 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Left this one until last as tend not to like books where animals feature as the main character although I did know this was more than just that - being about child soldiers in Africa.

I found it story of two opposite halves: the gentle way of living with the land and the animals, the day to day routines of the village, it's customs and way of life offset by the harsh cruelty and reality of the children being captured and forced into the army.

Just hope the paperback has a more tempting cover other
Aug 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Haunting, thought-provoking novel allowing insights into the gruesome world of child soldiers in war-torn African countries. It is also the touching and heart-warming tale of a special relationship between a young boy and a wild elephant. Not only was I hooked by the gripping story but also appreciated all the learning that came along with reading this novel. It definitely sparked my interest in reading more about elephants, Koni's child soldiers as well as seeking out other novels by the author ...more
Feb 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Child's Elephant By Rachel Campbell-Johnston
Published on May 22nd 2013

I could not put this book down! The suspense and the adventure!

On the African savannah a boy named Bat lived in a small village with his Grandma. A new girl named Muka came to the village with her aunty. Bat and Muka soon became friends. They went out adventuring to see a baby elephant lying on the ground alone and they named it Meya. They took care of it until...

The Kid Soldiers came...

Will Meya and Bat's friendship be st
Jun 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book turned out to be a fabulous read. It had trials and tribulations, humour, warmth and parts that broke my heart. I loved the African setting, and the children, Bat, Muka and Gulu were wonderful characters. However, my favourite character was the elephant, Meya. She had so much personality and wisdom, and I just loved her! I found Part 2 a bit slow where the children were captured and forced to train as soldiers, but the rest of the book was great tale of friendship, loyalty and survival ...more
Karin Carter
Mar 24, 2014 rated it liked it
I must admit to being a bit reluctant about reading books with animals in them, but as this is 'Carnegie' medal shortlisted I have had to give it a go. It was much better than anticipated. I felt that the descriptions of the African Savannah across the seasons was beuatifully written and the characters were weel-drawn. It was welcomed that this novel was not 'over-violent' as some have been in the past, but still remained true to the subject matter and engaging for the reader ...more
Alex Gutteridge
Mar 04, 2015 rated it liked it
I started this book quite some time ago, got distracted by other reading, but returned to finish it which says something in itself. I really enjoyed the first part but to be honest the character I really cared about was Meya the baby elephant and when she disappeared so did my motivation to continue. But finish it I did and although it was well written I did feel there should have been more tension. This book has some great reviews but I found it much too long. It just wasn't for me. ...more
Feb 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is classed as a children's book...I have read it and found it to be a wonderful story...but very sad and upsetting it brought tears to my eyes many a time...the writer came over of knowing just what she was talking about either on the ways of elephants which I found fasinating or the ways of the children's army which I found so upsetting and cruel. I would think twice about giving it to a child to read would depend on the child's age and demeanour. ...more
Nov 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really love this book. The description of the landscape and the day to day lives of the villagers is so wonderful, and of course Meya the elephant is so endearing. The second part is harsh and difficult to read, but it's not enough to distract from how well written it is. I love the characterisation of all the characters throughout, and the complexities which many of them are afforded. It's written for younger readers but I think it holds a charm for many ages ...more
« previous 1 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Sha Tin College C...: Carnegie Shortlist 2014: The Child's Elephant 2 4 Mar 25, 2014 09:59PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Of Love and Hunger
  • A Theatre for Dreamers
  • A Fortunate Man: The Story of a Country Doctor
  • Actress
  • The Quest for Queen Mary
  • Loving
  • Rogue Male (Rogue Male, #1)
  • The Real Life of Sebastian Knight
  • The Scapegoat
  • The Quincunx
  • I Remember Nothing: and Other Reflections
  • Speak, Memory
  • Don't Look Now and Other Stories
  • The Rose of Tibet
  • The Ice
  • Bezonomics: How Amazon Is Changing Our Lives and What the World's Best Companies Are Learning from It
  • The Light Years (Cazalet Chronicles, #1)
  • The Leopard
See similar books…

Related Articles

  Tami Charles is a former teacher and the author of picture books, middle grade and young adult novels, and nonfiction. As a teacher, she made...
44 likes · 65 comments