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When the Elephants Dance

December 2008
    Jan »

It is a story of the fight for survival, the power of a community, and the tragedy of World War II, as seen through the eyes of young Alejandro, his Ate Isabelle, and their friend/guerilla commander Domingo.  The Karangalans and their neighbors keep their spirits alive by sharing magical stories of ghosts, love triangles, and witches inspired by tales Holthe grew up with.


When the Elephants Dance, by Tess Uriza Holthe

Alejandro Karangalan is a 13 year old boy whose village just outside Manila is deeply affected by the Japanese occupation.  He spends his days dodging Makilipi throughout the capital in search of food for his starving family, and his nights cramped in the cellar of his home with neighbors who had been thrown to the streets by the Japanese soldiers.  Excerpt from page 3:

 “Papa explains the war like this: ‘When the elephants dance, the chickens must be careful.’ The great beasts, as they circle one another, shaking the trees and trumpeting loudly, are the Amerikanos and the Japanese as they fight. And our Philippine Islands? We are the small chickens. I think of baby chicks I can hold in the palm of my hand, flapping wings that are not yet grown, and I am frightened.”

1 Comment

  1. beckyblackpowell says:

    This sounds like a great book. Thanks for the review.

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