Beryl YoungBeryl Young Would Someone Please Answer the Parrot!Follow the ElephantCharlieWishing Star Summer



Follow the Elephant
Ronsdale Press, 2010
IBSN 978-1-55380-098-9, pp 246

Thirteen year old Ben is angry and isolated after his father dies of lung cancer, and his mother worries that Ben is withdrawing from the family by wasting his time with computer games and skipping school to hang out in video arcades.

Ben's grandmother invites him on a seventeen day trip to India to look for her childhood pen pal. Ben always thought he'd like to travel one day, though never with his grandmother, but the ticket is already bought and immunization shots are booked.


In a search that starts in the long lines of a Delhi registry office, Ben and Gran travel across the huge sub-continent by plane, bus, train, taxi, boat, rickshaw and horse-drawn tonga. Along the way Ben is strangely compelled to be near the magnificant live elephants and the Hindu elephant boy-god, Ganesh.



Here is a carving of Ganesh


Following one clue after another in a giant game of Snakes and Ladders, Ben sees magicians swallowing knives, cobras being milked for venom and bodies being burned on funeral pyres. Through insufferable heat, strange food and the constant haggling of street beggars, Ben is increasingly irritated by his grandmother's attempts to control him. He disobeys her and becomes lost in the dark labyrinth of a Hindu temple where he stumbles onto a statue of Ganesh.



"Ben looked into the almost human eyes of the elephant. And then it happened. In the dim light, the elephant's trunk swayed, lifted and dipped…..dipped away from the passage Ben had been following toward a smaller dark opening he hadn't noticed."

Their journey continues to the Bay of Bengal where Ben meets Rani, a beautiful Hindu girl, who talks to him about her belief in reincarnation, forcing Ben to think about death. Gram develops food poisoning and in saving her life, Ben comes across a last clue and uses his computer skills to lead to a joyful reunion of the grandmothers.

The challenges of the difficult journey teach Ben to value the computer as a tool rather than an escape and to come to terms with his father's death.




Follow the Elephant has now been published in Korean.

Reviews:

"A richly colourful, adventure-packed novel that keeps you turning page after page, while the sights, sounds and flavours of India permeate the senses."
    Pamela Porter, Governor General's award winner for The Crazy Man

"This book was a page-turner! I just couldn't put it down. It is a good story that can touch your heart. I should like to give Follow the Elephant five stars out of five!!"
    Online review. Jenny, age 12

"I started reading Follow the Elephant yesterday and finished it just moments ago. I had difficulty putting it down. An excellent read — it made me laugh and cry, all signs of a good book.
The topic of death and how one deals with it is an important one for children. The references to religions and Indian culture make a good connection to the World Religions study in Grade Eight. As a teacher I see many uses for this book in the school curriculum."

    Velma Moore, Teacher, Surrey, B.C.

"This awesome book will make you:
          #1. beg your parents for a pet elephant and
          #2 scratch Disneyland off your list of places to go and add India".
    Zac, age 12

"Beryl Young delivers the culture clash between east and west with panache and humour. She has a well developed sense of the absurd. This is a very good story - a seat of the pants adventure waltzing across the great Indian sub-continent. Any reader of any age would yearn to go to India and experience it all."
    Resource Links, Vol. 15 No. 4, 2010 Rated Good/Excellent

"Follow the Elephant is a well-written novel that is rich in cultural, historical and geographical detail. The rich description and well-paced character development are definite strengths. Young has expertly woven historical and cultural facts about India in with the prose of the novel, making this story one that will not only entertain readers, but teach them as well. Young's superb description will make India very real in the (reader's ) minds."
    Starred review. Canadian Materials, Vol. 16 Number 31, 2010

Awards:

Winner of the Chocolate Lily award for the best B.C. novel in 2011-12

My Silver Moonbeam medal
Follow the Elephant is shortlisted for the 2012 Rocky Mountain Book Award
Follow the Elephant received the U.S. Silver Moonbeam medal (2010) for pre-teen fiction.
nominated for Book of the Year 2011-2012 by the Surrey school board.
named One of the Year's Best Books by Resource Links, 2010
finalist and named "an exceptional book" by the National Chapter of the IODE Violet Downey Book Awards, 2010