• In The Shadow Of An Elephant

    First impressions count. They are (for me) seldom wrong. However, like a painting on the wall, a second, closer look can often enhance if not alter those first gut reactions. Closer inspection often reveals hitherto unseen beauties secreted among shadows laden with meaning. This is precisely why I adore picture books.

    My first impression of Georgie Donaghey’s, In the Shadow of an Elephant was that it was an immense story; a picture book attempting to embrace a life story as boundless as the African Savannah, just as brutal and beautiful. Even the magnificent front cover of Lualani the elephant required a full cover wrap to encompass her complete gorgeous form.

    Then I took the book home and read it quietly. I read it aloud to my teen daughter. I read it again, alone. Each reading became more and more emotional as the fullness of the story swept over me and somehow the largeness of this tale found a perfect fit within its picture book confines, and within my heart.

    Lualani is an adorable baby elephant who enjoys her baby elephant life with her herd and her ever-present mumma until one terrible night when her world rips apart following a merciless poachers’ attack. Alone and bereft, she is taken in by Jabari and his Papa who coax Lualani into loving life again, teaching her ‘how to be an elephant.’

    Together they grow, sing and dance and again, morn after Jabari’s papa dies. And, just as elephants are wont to do, Lualani returns Jabari’s love with patience and understanding, salving his grief and cherishing every moment of their time together; ‘dancing in each other’s shadows’ until life’s curtains draw close.

    In the Shadow of an Elephant is a sweeping tale, an epic story of beginnings and endings, of love and the unrelenting qualities of the cycle of life. Donaghey’s lyrical prose is charged with emotion yet is never excessive or cloying. It tells Lualani’s life story with just the right amount of colour and sentiment. It is because we can relate to the feelings of loss and grief that each cleverly chosen word becomes so emotionally amplified, giving us a fuller sense of the depth of friendship Lualani and Jabari share.

    The other notable thing of greatness this book possesses is the artwork. Sandra Svergnini’s pencil lined drawings are exquisite, pulsing with life and texture. The limited colour palette against greyscale drawings works a treat, highlighting the significant parts of each illustration without ever compromising focus. Patterned page bands simultaneously reflect these highlights and the colours of the Savannah.

    There is so much heart in each of Lualani’s facial expressions that you cannot fail to feel her agonising despair, her soaring joy. This story is a true marriage of words and pictures that works to elicit compassion, empathy and thankfulness.

    Despite its magnitude or perhaps because of it, In The Shadow of an Elephant is delivered with great grace and gentleness making it an obvious classroom go-to to aid discussions about animal welfare, namely the problem of poaching in Africa as well as friendship, animal human bonds and finding the light in the darkest moments of despair. If I had to offer one suggestion to enhance this book, it would be to increase its hardback format to a greater size to match the story’s undeniable presence.

    Highly recommended for middle primary readers and lovers of elephants.

    See the original review and visit Dimity Powell's blog

    Dimity Powell's website: www.dimitypowell.com


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  • In The Shadow Of An Elephant

    Georgie Donaghey has delivered a moving story that explores love, loss, friendship, and trust. Though this story is for five to six year olds, it could be used as an aid in middle primary when dealing with the sensitive issues of life and death.

    The story takes you to the African Savannah where Lualani a baby elephant is ripped away from her mother’s side one dark night. Poachers scare the herd leaving Lualani calling for her mother. It informs those new to reading about the harshness of life in a gentle way.

    Lualani is frightened and extremely sad, but she is not alone for long. A boy Jabari and his Papa find her, and through, empathy, understanding, patience, and perseverance earn the trust of Lualani. A strong friendship forms and both Jabari and Lualani over many years learn from each other.

    The story brings you full circle when Jabari’s papa passes, and now Lualani is the one to help Jabari through his saddest moments.

    The story is added to with the delightful artwork by Sandra Severgnini showing the reader the beauty of Africa and evoking the nature of the emotions that are felt throughout the story.

    Original review on Buzz Words: www.buzzwordsmagazine.com/2019/04/in-shadow-of-elephant


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  • In The Shadow Of An Elephant

    IN THE SHADOW OF AN ELEPHANT by Georgie Donaghey & Sandra Severgnini (Little Pink Dog).

    The moving and heartfelt story of a lifelong friendship between a boy and an elephant. The expressive illustrations are enhanced by an African border. A beautiful production.


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  • In The Shadow Of An Elephant

    '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.


    Original Review: www.justkidslit.com/bookreview-in-the-shadow-of-an-elephant-by-georgie-donaghey-and-sandra-severgnini


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  • In The Shadow Of An Elephant

    Lualani is a baby elephant that lives with her family on the African plains. 

    At night she sleeps cuddled into her mother. During the day she stands in her mother’s shadow as protection from the burning sun.

    It is night when the sharp sounds split the calm and force the herd to scatter. Lualani is left alone.  

    She is found by the boy Jabari and his father, and taken to a place of safety to be fed and cared for. But Lualani longs for her mother until she realizes Mumma won’t be coming back.

    Trust is built and a strong bond is formed between the elephant and the two humans. Their shadows become one until a tragedy occurs and the tables are turned. Now Lualani is the comforter, and the boy the broken-hearted.

    When time and space separate the two friends, they both know that they will be reunited again at some future stage.

    This is a delicate story, beautifully told about the hunt and slaughter of African elephants by poachers. This central theme is revealed in a non-confronting way through subtle allusion.

    The  secondary theme of the strong friendship between animal and Man is the maintaining wall built around the poaching reference, as is the fragility of life, and the protection of wildlife.

    Sandra Servergnini’s exquisite illustrations in pencil and watercolour sit as light as air on the page in cohesion with the gentle tone of the text.  Her portrayal of the separation of mother and baby projected on a dark background effectively relays the devastation felt by the two elephants. Decorative African trim at the bottom of selected pages adds that something extra. These same colours are the only ones used in all the illustrations. The rest is grey against white. The fly pages reflect intimate images replicated from inside the book of Lualani and Jabari together.

    Original Review: www.kids-bookreview.com/2019/08/review-in-shadow-of-elephant


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  • In The Shadow Of An Elephant

    A very endearing tale which, importantly, touches on elephant’s great emotional capacity.


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  • In The Shadow Of An Elephant

    I absolutely loved In the Shadow Of An Elephant! What a beautifully written story. You captured the shock, sadness and loneliness that grief brings but also mastered the new relationships and support found while on a grief journey. I love the use of seasons to show time passing (extremely hard to show in a picture book).


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