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Book Review - Bandoola: The Great Elephant Rescue - Does this Elephant adventure excite?

Updated: Sep 5, 2022

By: William Grill

Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Reading Age: 7+

To say I’ve fallen head over heels in love with this book (and Bandoola himself!), would be an understatement. If, like me, you enjoy learning about animals and enjoy learning about history, then “Bandoola: The Great Elephant Rescue” will make you burst with joy.

The author, William Grill, masterfully intertwines factual content with a heart-rending storyline to give this tale the full depth it deserves.

Grills keeps information concise and clear, often combining facts with detailed illustrations to keep the reader engaged. The language used is easy to understand, without feeling overly simplified. There is also a handy (and fully illustrated!) glossary in the back of the book to make for stress-free reading.

The factual content is cleverly sprinkled amongst the chapters of the story to give context to the characters and setting without obstructing the flow of the narrative. What’s really impressive is the amount of emotional investment that Grills generates from the reader, especially from a non-fiction book that features so much factual content. It would be impressive for a reader to reach the narrative conclusion without having a heart-bursting moment of emotion! And yet, this book is also packed with so much information to learn; Elephants, World War 2, Myanmar. You’ll finish this book feeling satisfied with the story PLUS feeling filled to the brim with new knowledge.

And then there’s the artwork. The book is worth a second read just to re-visit the pictures again. Grill’s attention to detail here is what really brings an extra layer of quality to his work. Birds transform into fighter planes, human shadows move through the jungle and the trees shiver in the breeze.

But the real stars here are the elephant illustrations. There must be hundreds, maybe even thousands, of elephants featured in this book. Some span across two pages, while others appear as tiny dots on a landscape (and let’s just take a moment to appreciate how mind-blowing it is that Grills can combine two or three tiny lines of colour into a shape that is immediately recognisable as an elephant!), but no two elephants are exactly the same. Each one is distinct from the rest with its own character traits, posture, and temperament.

One particular chapter features no more than 58 elephants skilfully illustrated on a double-page. Each elephant is individually drawn with its own unique personality – with varying sizes, colours, and activities to carry out, such as stacking, lifting, pushing, or pulling logs.

It’s also worth mentioning the muted colour palette that spans the artwork in the book. Every page is awash with luscious combinations of yellows, greens, and reds. From the largest double-page illustrations to the small collage designs, very few other colours make an appearance. The colour palette brings to life the climate and environment of Myanmar, where the story takes place, in a very satisfying way.

So prepare to fall in love with this story, these illustrations, and, more importantly, Bandoola himself, with this informative and enthralling tale in this beautifully presented book.

A big thank you to Flying Eye Books for providing us with a review copy of 'Bandoola: The Great Elephant Rescue'.

If you'd like to buy the book, you can find more information on the Flying Eye Books website


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