A gentle story of depression and hope is told in this middle-grade Australian import.
Olive’s mother died when Olive was 1, and ever since, she has seen a large gray elephant following her father around. It follows him home from work, sits in the house next to him, and keeps him heavy and sad. Olive doesn’t know what to do about the elephant, but at least she has her maternal grandfather, who packs her lunch and picks her up from school, sometimes wearing a purple backpack that means a special adventure. One day, Olive, ignoring Grandad’s directive to put on her helmet, falls from a tree and receives a concussion. When she awakens, she sees a gray tortoise following Grandad around and blames herself. Olive confides in understanding friend Arthur. Together they devise a plan to get rid of the tortoise, and when that succeeds, Olive determines—with Grandad’s help—to make the elephant leave too. Carnavas takes the tough topic of caregiver depression and gives it a delicate, graceful touch. His plot weaves tightly together, and the ending twist is a lovely completion. Black-and-white spot illustrations throughout give a visually accessible feel, as do the short chapters. All characters illustrated are the white of the paper.
A delicate, lovely story about caregiver depression that will validate and empower readers. (Fiction. 5-12)