Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 10 to 14
- Grade: 4
What thirteen-year-old boy wants to travel on a hopeless quest to India with his grandmother? Not Ben Leeson, whose anger about his father’s recent death has led him to escape into the isolated world of computer games. India is the last place Ben ever thought of visiting and his grandmother is the last person he’d ever dreamed of travelling with, but the ticket is already bought and Ben finds himself in India on a search for Gran’s long lost pen pal, Shanti. In the midst of insufferable heat, strange food and the constant haggling of street beggars, Ben and Gran meet magicians and snake charmers and see bodies burning on funeral pyres. As they search for clues across the huge continent, Ben finds himself strangely compelled to follow the magnificent elephants and the elephant boy-god Ganesh. The challenges of the journey teach Ben that real life can be more exciting than any computer game and that by accepting the dark mysteries of India, he can come to terms with his father’s death. This adventure quest for children ten and up takes its place among the many captivating adult books about India, and is an invaluable resource for school curriculum studies on world religions.
About the author
Beryl Young is the author of the best-selling young adult novel Wishing Star Summer (Raincoast, 2001). The book was on the Victoria Times Colonist BC Children’s Bestseller list for twenty-six weeks, was named to Our Choice book by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre, and received nominations for the Red Cedar Award (BC), the Chocolate Lily Award (BC) and the Diamond Willow Award (SK). Young is a member of the Federation of BC Writers, the Children’s Writers and Illustrators of BC, the Writers Union of Canada, and the Canadian Society of Authors, Illustrators and Performers. In the autumn of 2009, she published, to great acclaim, Charlie: A Home Child’s Life in Canada (Key Porter). She has a passion for elephants and for India, where she has travelled three times in an unsuccessful search for her real life pen pal. She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. Beryl has three children and four grandchildren.
Follow the ElephantThirteen-year-old Ben has just lost his father to lung cancer. He is spending all his time playing computer games and avoiding everyone. His mother and grandmother are concerned, so using the excuse of wanting to look for an old pen pal, his “uncool” grandmother practically forces Ben to accompany her on a trip to India. Disturbed by beggars, shocked by the proximity of death, Ben’s sheltered existence enters another dimension. He sees a man levitating, gets lost inside a temple and has an otherworldly experience with the elephant god Ganesh. Trips to the Taj Mahal, the Ganges and the holy city of Varanasi provide more mystical and spiritual experiences. When his grandmother falls dangerously ill, Ben realizes how much he appreciates his family and life in Vancouver.
Young is the author of Wishing Star Summer and Charlie: A Home Child’s Life in Canada.
Source: The Association of Book Publishers of BC. BC Books for BC Schools. 2010-2011.