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Young Adult Nonfiction Military & Wars

When Elephants Fight

by (author) Eric Walters

other primary creator Adrian Bradbury

Orca Book Publishers
Initial publish date
Oct 2008
Military & Wars, Violence, General
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2008
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Oct 2008
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2012
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Out of print

This edition is not currently available in bookstores. Check your local library or search for used copies at Abebooks.

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 12 to 18
  • Grade: 8 to 12
  • Reading age: 12 to 18


When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. This ancient proverb of the Kikuyu people, a tribal group in Kenya, Africa, is as true today as when the words were first spoken, perhaps thousands of years ago. Its essence is simplicity—when the large fight, it is the small who suffer most. And when it comes to war, the smallest, the most vulnerable, are the children.
When Elephants Fight presents the stories of five children—Annu, Jimmy, Nadja, Farooq and Toma—from five very different and distinct conflicts—Sri Lanka, Uganda, Sarajevo, Afghanistan and the Sudan. Along with these very personal accounts, the book also offers brief analyses of the history and geopolitical issues that are the canvas on which these conflicts are cast.
When Elephants Fight is about increasing awareness. For the future to be better than the past, better than the present, we must help equip our children with an awareness and understanding of the world around them and their ability to bring about change. Gandhi stated, "If you are going to change the world, start with the children."

About the authors

Eric Walters is the author of many acclaimed and bestselling novels for children and young adults. His novels have won numerous awards, including the Silver Birch, Blue Heron, Red Maple, Snow Willow, Ruth Schwartz, and Tiny Torgi, and have received honours from the Canadian Library Association Book Awards and UNESCO's international award for Literature in Service of Tolerance.

Eric lives in Mississauga with his wife, Anita, and three children, Christina, Nicholas, and Julia. When not writing or touring across the country speaking to school groups, Eric spends time playing or watching soccer and basketball, or playing the saxophone.

To find out more about Eric and his novels, or to arrange for him to speak at your school, visit his website at

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Eric Walters' profile page

Adrian Bradbury is the co-founder and director of GuluWalk, a foundation dedicated to supporting the abandoned children of northern Uganda. He is also the founder and director of Athletes for Africa, a charitable organization that uses the power and profile of sport to educate and engage Canadians in Africa's fight against poverty, famine and disease. Bradbury's writing on northern Uganda has appeared in both the National Post and Uganda's Daily Monitor, and for the continuing efforts of GuluWalk he earned a 2005 Planet Africa award and was recognized as a 'Newsmaker of the Year' by Maclean's magazine. He lives in Toronto, Canada with his wife Kim and their two sons Isaac (6) and Owen (4).
For more information please visit

Adrian Bradbury's profile page


  • Commended, CCBC Best Books starred selection
  • Commended, Resource Links "The Year's Best"

Editorial Reviews

"A comprehensive, yet concise, history of the conflicts or wars immediately following each child's story...An eye-opening perspective that is valuable to readers of all ages."

Southwestern Ohio Young Adult Materials Review Group

"Bradbury's personal experience with children in northern Uganda lends credence to these narratives, and readers will share his sympathies with these innocent victims."

Kirkus Reviews

"A solid vehicle for discussions about the effects of war on children... Highly recommended."

CM Magazine

"[Walters and Bradbury] provide a thoughtful historical and political analysis to assist young readers - along with many an older reader understandably confused by world events - in seeing how these conflicts arise… The tales provide a fresh and vibrant voice that needs to be heard."

Quill & Quire

"The narratives are filled with conflict, suspense, and action...Earth-toned pages, color photography, and informative sidebars make the book attractive."


"The writing is accessible, and the kids' stories are compelling. The many photographs of children and landscapes help contextualize their stories."

The Horn Book Guide

"Worth the effort of media specialists and teachers to get it into the hands of students...This would be an excellent supplemental text for a high school geography or world civilization program. Highly Recommended."

Library Media Connection

"It should be mandatory reading! Highly, highly recommended."

Tucson Unified School District

"This outstanding a recommended purchase for all middle and high school libraries. It is an interesting and powerful read that will appeal to the student interest in global issues, or anyone with an interest in children's rights."

Resource Links

Other titles by Eric Walters