The Secret Elephant of Harlan Kooter

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9780395625231: The Secret Elephant of Harlan Kooter
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Tired of being teased for his small size, little red-haired Harlan Kooter keeps to himself, until an escaped circus elephant befriends him and teaches him how to find courage.

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From School Library Journal:

Grade 3-5-- While this story has compelling moments, and the whispy sketches of Kooter astride the talking elephant he secretly befriends have appeal, the stereotypes and flaws in logic do it in. Harlan, a hardworking, undersized red-head, is picked on daily by the school bully in this seaside Florida town. When he finds an elephant in his mother's garage, Harlan agrees to hide the fearful beast--who tells the boy he wants to be free of the circus. The animal helps Harlan on his paper route, but is tagged a rogue when he hoists the bully into a tree. When a storm hits, Harlan leaps from a rescue boat to swim to release the chained elephant--who then proceeds to rescue hurricane victims (including the bully) from atop a building. All reconcile, and the elephant is awarded a trip home to Africa. Both the wonder of an elephant's speaking and the force of water are strangely underplayed, and the simplistic characters and behavior make for a minor melodrama in which one might boo both hero and the bully--and look around for the author, too.
- Ruth M. McConnell, San Antonio Public Library
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Publishers Weekly:

Meet Harlan Kooter--a kind, plucky lad with "the reddest hair anyone had ever seen" who is mercilessly teased by his classmates for being poor and small. When the circus comes to town, Harlan discovers a runaway animal in his garage: "a medium-sized elephant, which is to say it was about the size of a delivery van." Hannibal, a perceptive pachyderm with the gift of gab, turns out to be just the kind of chum Harlan needs; the two form a risky and protective partnership. When a fierce hurricane hits their small town, Harlan and Hannibal's remarkable strength and friendship helps them save residents' lives, and earns each of them a richly deserved understanding and freedom. In his deftly written first novel, Harvey seamlessly blends passages of chuckle-producing humor with gently affecting moments--the whole overlaid with an ingenuous, old-fashioned charm. Richardson's black-and-white pencil sketches, droll and delicate, perfectly complement the book's slightly fey tone. Harlan and Hannibal are an endearing pair whose happy ending is cause for cheering. Ages 7-10.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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