Ms. Ila’s Middle Grade Reading Club: Elephant Girl by James Patterson and Ellen Banda-Aaku


Elephant Girl by James Patterson and Ellen Banda-Aaku is about a young girl called Jama, who loves school, but doesn't quite fit in with the other children at school.  Have you ever felt like that?  It might be hard, but maybe it's time to find new friends.

Feeling like she is growing apart from her best friend, Jama starts to observe and interact with a herd of elephants who live just outside of her village.

Jama soon comes to love her new friends, but they are not the only ones outside of the village.  Jama observes a strange man who turns out to be a poacher.  Poachers have a terrible impact upon the local wildlife in many wild areas in the world.  Their business, which is to kill local wildlife and to sell the remains, is an unlawful practice and can decimate local wildlife, sometimes to the point of extinction.

Extinction of any species is incredibly difficult because of its finality and its impact on other species.  For instance, if a predator species become extinct, their prey will then start to overpopulate an area.

The Library has a great database for you to learn about endangered and extinct species!

PowerKnowledge Life Science

Under Online Homework Help, scroll down to Science.  Click on PowerKnowledge Life Science.

In the menu on the left, there is a link called Endangered and Extinct Species.

As you know, dinosaurs and most prehistoric animals are extinct.  However, under Endangered Species, you can find articles by categories:

  • General Endangered Animals
  • Endangered Animals by continent
  • Invasive species (species not native to an environment)
  • Organisms and the environment

In the United States, a list of endangered animals is on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Endangered Species list.

However, African species, like the African Elephant, can be found on the website of the World Wildlife Fund.  Poaching of animals like elephants has been especially harmful to the African ecosystem.  Efforts to stop poachers are often derailed by corrupt officials like Solo Mungu.

Elephant Girl takes place in Africa, amongst a group of people called the Maasai.

The Maasai

One of the most interesting things I like about reading is when I learn all about a different culture!

In the country of Kenya, there is a people and culture called the Maasai.  The Maasai are a nomadic people, unlike you or I.  Their life follows the herds of animals that they cultivate.

If you look at the short encyclopedia description of the Maasai, it is difficult to learn more about this culture.  To learn more, I accessed the Worldmark Encyclopedia of Culture and Daily Life, which has a more in-depth examination of the Maasai, including:

  • Location and homeland
  • Language
  • Folklore
  • Religion
  • Major holidays
  • Rites of passage
  • Interpersonal relations
  • Living conditions
  • Family Life
  • Clothing
  • Food
  • Education
  • Cultural heritage
  • Sports
  • Entertainment
  • Folk arts, crafts, and hobbies
  • Social issues
  • Gender issues

After reading about Jama's culture, I gained new insight into Jama's real differences from many of her female peers.  Truly, her interests are in direct opposition to her male-dominant culture.  It is easy to see why she chooses to leave the tribe to follow her dreams.

Questions to Consider

  • Do you think Jama faces some of the same gender issues that American kids face?  What do you think?
  • Do you think Jama should have stayed with Busara Kandenge?  Why or why not?
  • Why do you think Leku was always getting into fights with the other boys?
  • Do you think that there a lot of people like Solo Mungu?
  • Have you ever had a friend like Mbegu?
  • Did you think Jama would have been happy if she lived with Kokoo Naserian?
  • Losing her home and mother was devastating.  What helped Jama to overcome these traumas?

ON MAY 2ND, let's read a book for the end of Autism Awareness Month in April, Show Us Who You Are by Elle McNicoll.