In The Shadow Of An Elephant

In The Shadow Of An Elephant review by Romi Sharp (Just Write For Kids)

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'This is a book of intense meaning, of beauty, life, earth-shattering loss and of an epic forge of bonding.'


One terrible night the ground rumbled, and dark shapes appeared in the distance. A cracking sound tore through the air. Lualani’s life was changed forever.‘Don’t be afraid. I will look after you.’ Jabari reached out his hand.A life-long friendship set on the edge of the African Savanna. Through life’s challenges they will embrace the joys of dancing in the shadow of an elephant.


From the first glimpse of the cover, we, the reader, are immediately drawn in to this emotive story. With a loving embrace and tears streaming down their cheeks, this image captures something deep in all of us – a special connection, so full of emotion, heart and intrigue. We need to know more.

Being African-born, and a huge animal-lover and protector, In the Shadow of an Elephant touched a part of me from the beginning. But you don’t have to be those things to fall in love with this heart-rending, moving tale. Within us all is the need to feel loved and cared for – to have and to hold a friendship so near that withstands a life-time of ups and downs. Georgie Donaghey so beautifully elicits all of this in her story; from complete joy and tenderness, to shock, despair and sorrow, and comfort, trust and loyalty. Donaghey’s poetic-like narrative takes us to the vast African Savanna, which finds baby elephant Lualani suddenly orphaned due to the terrors of hunters. And so, although understandably heartbroken, she begins her journey on a new path with boy Jabari and his Papa. Across time, we encounter a unique friendship of understanding, of learning new things (like, how to be an elephant), of sharing grief, and of an undeniable dance between love and light. What joy and soul, trumpeting off these pages with Sandra Severgnini’s mixture of light and shade and pops of patterned, vibrant, and warm tones. She has created unforgettable illustrations that ooze with a cultural, heart-warming and eye-appeasing aura.

In the Shadow of an Elephant is such a valuable book for its ability to promote compassion, thought and discussion around topics of wildlife poaching and the treatment of animals, friendship, love, life and loss and the power of memory. How neatly does this intertwine with the amazing power of elephants?!

This is a book of intense meaning, of beauty, life, earth-shattering loss and of an epic forge of bonding. Tender, emotional and sublime. Highly recommended for primary school-aged children.


In the Shadow of an Elephant, has been honoured as a “Finalist” in the “Children’s Picture Book: Hardcover Fiction” category in the 2019 International Book Awards.


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