Star the Elephant
Surviving the Wild
A & U Children’s, 2022
112pp., graphic novel, RRP $A14.99
There isn’t enough food left on the island to sustain Star’s Asian elephant family -no more teak tree bark, bamboo shoots, bananas or even palatable grasses because their natural jungle is being cleared for palm oil plantations. So Star’s herd has to split up to find other food sources if they are to survive at all, and Star finds himself swimming in the ocean under the stars for what seems like the longest time ever. But the world out there is so big! Despite Aunty’s constant warnings about not going where his mum can’t see him, soon Star finds himself lost and alone, facing giant “spiders “and a big, wild ocean and the scariest thing of all … humans! Will he ever be reunited with his family?
The second in a new graphic novel series called Surviving the Wild designed to make young readers more aware of the environment by viewing it through the lenses of those creatures that live in it, this story is loosely based on a true story when, in 1990, three bull elephants swam across the Johor Strait from Malaysia to Singapore, landing on an island where there was a military base and the soldiers tracked the elephants so they could be safely rehomed in a nearby sanctuary, the focus of this story is the impact of deforestation on the natural inhabitants of these places, from creatures as large and as visible as the elephants and orangutans, to the not-so-obvious like the fiddler crabs. Thus, even our youngest readers can become aware of the devastation that humans can inflict on the environment and, in their own small way, begin to make changes which can have far-reaching effects. Even looking at the labels on the food their parents purchase and encouraging them to look for those without palm oil or with the symbols of either the Rainforest Alliance or Forest Stewardship Council can make a difference.
Teachers’ notes focusing on helping young readers read and interpret the graphic novel format are available.