The Elephant’s Girl by Celesta Rimington: A 2020 Middle Grade Must Read!

The best way to survive a tornado? In the Elephant’s Girl by Celesta Rimington, Lexington knows how to endure a storm better than most. If only she could feel as confident on the calm weather days when she ventures away from her home base, the zoo. She rarely leaves the zoo due to her special connection to one of the zoo’s elephants and close relationships with the zoo staff. Rimington portrays Lex’s ache to have a family of her own, the impressive loyalty of her friendship with Fisher, and her strong desire to find confidence to overcome her anxiety. Any reader will root along with Lex for the adults in her life to honest and make morally just decisions. This mystical adventure will satisfy readers who love animals, baseball, trains, storms, geography, restoration of antiques, and wandering spirits! 

After reading a description of Pine Manor’s Plotting your Novel class instructed by Brandom Kiely, I was inspired to map out Lex’s motivations and how Remington raises the stakes as she moves the plot from one chapter to the next. Writers of middle grade will appreciate Rimington’s ability to raise the stakes chapter after chapter, weave enthralling backstories for main and side characters, and connect their conflicts masterfully. The use of personification of weather and description of visual communication will inspire writers to create unusual characters and rethink which character should reveal information! The use of setting as a boundary for safety plays an important role in this novel and the impact of this boundary shifting over the course of the story mirrors Lex’s growth as a character. This idea of tying setting to conflict is definitely a writing move I want to try as I revise my own MG WIP!

All in all, I highly recommend The Elephant’s Girl to readers who love treasure hunts, stories of friendship (whether between people or people and animals), and stories of finding where you belong!