The Elephant Bird is a wonderful book about a little girl Munia and the giant one feathered elephant bird. When I got the book, I was intrigued by the name of the bird. I must admit, while I had plans of being a Paleontologist when I was a kid, I had no clue what an elephant bird was. I searched it on Google, and as per wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elephant_bird) elephant birds are members of the extinct family aepyornithidae. Elephant birds were large to enormous, flightless birds that once lived on the island of Madagascar, which lies about 420 km (260 mi) off the southeast coast of Africa. They became extinct, probably in the 17th or 18th century, for reasons that are unclear, although human activity is the suspected cause.
Muniya is a little girl in the village of Adhania, who has a slight limp as a result of which no children in the village play with her. Muniya goes to the jungle often to observe the elephant bird, who is a giant bird that comes near the lake to splash water and sometimes he just rests near the dense jungle. With his long strong neck, huge legs with claws and a heavy spear like head and talons he looks scary but with observation, Munia realizes that he is a pretty shy bird and more importantly, he is a herbivorous bird who munches leaves by the lakeside.
One day, Vayu the horse of the village goes missing. There are only two horses in the village and when one of them goes missing, the villages start accusing the elephant bird of eating him up. They hold a meeting and decide to kill the last of the elephant birds who are otherwise considered extinct. Munia, who is extremely brave and now has becomes friends with the elephant bird (the incident on how they become friends is described beautifully in the book) finds courage to protest against the villagers. She claims that he is innocent, but no one believes her. The next day when they go to kill him, she stands in the way saying, no way that he could have eaten up a horse. What happens next? Does she manage to save the bird? Do the villagers get their revenge? Where is the horse? That is how the story ends.
It is nice to see a differently abled girl as such a strong character in the book and the author ensures that there is nothing that makes her different in her reactions as a child.
The book keeps an exciting pace all over, and the brat and I turned pages as fast as we could read to know what happens next. The description of the bird, the village and even Munia is very apt and gives us a sense of feeling of seeing the characters right in front of us. It is nice to see a differently abled girl as such a strong character in the book and the author ensures that there is nothing that makes her different in her reactions as a child. The illustration of the elephant bird makes us feel as if he is cute and cuddly and adorable, instead of scary
Definitely recommended for children in their 3rd or 4th standard, as they start to study the basics of geology. This book will just give them a different perspective of how these birds actually lived and survived before they became extinct. Go on and pick it up and enjoy a bit of history mixed with fiction.
Disclaimer: This book was sent to IMC by the publishers, Pratham Books. IMC did not receive any remuneration for this review. All views expressed here, are that of the reviewer.