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Reviewed by Rosie Malezer for Readers' Favorite
Santosh the Little Elephant is a children’s book written by Gilbert-Ian Rueda and illustrated by Gülistan Yildiz. Santosh is much smaller than other elephants his age. Avoiding all talk of the upcoming move, Santosh pretends to be asleep and overhears his parents discussing how they are worried about Santosh’s reaction to the move. The next morning, Santosh rushes to the bus after breakfast, not wanting to talk to his parents about what is upsetting him. When school ends, Santosh tells his teacher, Ms. Ross, that his family is moving away in one week. He then starts to cry, telling her that he is afraid he will not like things after he moves and is upset that he is leaving all of his friends behind. Ms. Ross encourages Santosh, telling him that he is brave and he should look at the move as the next exciting adventure.
At home, Santosh quickly discovers that his parents are just as anxious about moving as he is, but they tell him that they trust everything will be okay because they are doing it together. Santosh is heartbroken, however, when he discovers they cannot take their dog, Cooper, with them because their new home does not allow pets. He decides to run away from home and take Cooper with him, and their reaction is definitely not one that he had expected. Santosh’s imagination takes hold when he leaves the house; he pictures magical forests and giant castles where he and Cooper will become esteemed royalty. Little does Santosh know that his parents have a surprise for him that will make his biggest dreams come true.
Santosh the Little Elephant is very well written, dealing with the emotional hardships of having to move and leave all of your friends behind. Gilbert-Ian Rueda’s depiction of a child who is barely able to cope with the move, before finding out that he will have to leave behind his beloved pet, is so accurate. My heart broke for Santosh, but having people around him who love him and truly care about how he is feeling makes such a difference. This book would be helpful in letting a child see the emotional hardship that their parents also face when moving to a new city or new country for work. Avoidance of any discussion about it doesn’t make it go away; talking the important things through is the only way to make vital decisions, such as how to accommodate a pet and make adjustments so that all family members the decisions affect are happy. I enjoyed both the emotional and educational aspects of Santosh’s story and recommend it to all young readers who are faced with having to leave their friends behind in a move, as it encourages them to talk about what is troubling them and will help them deal with their feelings head-on. This book would be ideally stocked in medical practices, day-care centres, kindergartens, and in school and home libraries.