Praise from National Award-Winning Teachers
Children and Adults Alike will Cherish “Viku and the Elephant is an enchanting tale of the power of children to see and appreciate the gift of life for what it truly is, told through the tale of the friendship between a boy and the animal he befriends, a relationship we all truly long for and can connect to. Debu Majumdar weaves together this story with his sincere and smooth writing, as if the story was being told amongst friends. The reader discovers the beauty and gifts of the land and culture of India, so beautifully depicted by Lynn Wolfe’s colorful and rich illustrations, while at the same time being made aware of a global issue, the heartlessness and severity of the ivory trade. Children and adults alike will cherish this wonderful tale.” – Roni Gold
Milken Educator Award (2010)
Rebecca M. Johnson School, Springfield, Masssachusetts
Culturally diverse and expand horizons “Students need to be culturally diverse and expand their horizons. Viku and the Elephant is an extraordinary story of the adventures of a boy and his great big friend. I was on the edge of my seat and it left me wanting to read more. The vivid details tell the story like it is …the culture in the story is well kept. …wonderful work in educating our children.”
– Rogelio Garcia, Milken Educator Award (2010), Dallas, Texas.
Exposes students to India and the Indian culture “Viku and the Elephant is a wonderful story that can teach us all about the importance of friendship and doing the right thing. The special bond between Viku and Haatee is really what drew me into this story. I also appreciate how this story exposes students to India and the Indian culture. This story would be great to use with students to cover comprehension strategies such as cause and effect, problem/solution, and author’s purpose.”
– Martin Martinez, Milken Educator Award (2010), Hogan Cedars Elementary, Gresham, Oregon
The Relationship is a Beautiful One …truly enjoyed it! The relationship between Viku and the elephant is a beautiful one. It is important for readers to hear how relationships are built. Their mutual respect for one another and ability to overcome many problems throughout the story was engaging. Viku shows courage and respect for others – two of the important pillars of character. Integrating information and cultural vocabulary as well as offering a guide at the end was helpful. – Susana N. Baum
the nation’s prestigious Milken Educator Award Winner (2000)
Title I Reading Teacher, Solana Vista Elementary School, Solana Beach, California
A glimpse into cultural values “The story gives all readers, young and old, a glimpse into the cultural values and hardships of an impoverished Indian boy. …I think students could learn a great deal comparing their lives to Viku’s and by discussing the decisions Viku makes in the story.”
– Joel Robins, Milken Educator Award (2010), Deep Creek Elementary, Chesapeake, Virginia
An Elephant for a Best Friend Viku and the Elephant is written in a gentle tone, but with enough suspense and action to keep the attention of the children who are just beginning to take on the complexities of longer and more challenging chapter books. Engaging and descriptive, it weaves a compelling story with a dose of cultural information and moral lessons stirred into the mix – naturally and without didacticism. In addition to showing the friendship, loyalty, and bravery involved in Viku’s relationship with the elephants, the story gives the reader a chance to vicariously fulfill a dream that a fair number of children might have (including myself, now as an adult and as a child). Who wouldn’t love to have an elephant for a best friend, who lowers his trunk down specifically so you can climb up and ride around on him? And who listens to you, the child, and not the grown-ups! Whereas Horton, Dumbo, and Babar (lovable as they may be) are elephants one might want to befriend, one does not encounter them in their natural habitats, so there is always an element of the unreal lurking in the background. This heightens the vicarious experience of the reader. – Susan Seefeldt, Library Assistant, Youth Services Department, Fairbanks North Star Borough Public Library, Fairbanks, Alaska
That’s What Friends Do! I had my son read the story again tonight. He really likes the illustrations! He also liked the part when the elephant tricked the hunters at the end. He says, ‘They were greedy and didn’t deserve the wealth like Viku. The elephant helped out Viku because his family needed it. That is what friends do.’ He also like the ‘saving of the zoo elephant’ part.’ … He decided that this book would be perfect to read in his classroom to his friends because ‘some of them don’t understand the meaning of true friendship.’ – 8-year old Dylan Thomas from Twentynine Palms
California (communicated by his mother)
A Deep Underlying Tone About How Friends Work I enjoyed the relationship between the boy and the elephant. I think it has a deep underlying tone about how friends work with each other in unusual ways. The innocence of Viku is a nice change. He is excited about his friend and what adventures they share. When he shares his story with the reporter, I knew something bad was going to happen! The pictures were gorgeous! – Jennifer Smith
The nation’s prestigious Milken Educator Award Winner (2006)
Morongo Unified School District Teacher of the Year (2009)
and Response Intervention teacher at Palm Vista Elementary School, Twentynine Palms, California
Sharing Viku and the Elephant with Fifth Graders As an assistant principal, I had the opportunity to share Viku and the Elephant with a class of fifth graders. I told them we would review it together. But, as we began to read, they forgot about our task as reviewers and just simply ENJOYED the story. This story takes us to another place in our world, and introduces us to another culture. A new place we were able to research afterwards. The students were concerned for Viku and Haatee. The relationship between the characters was heartwarming. They wondered how Haatee knew what he knew. Discussions based on the story were exciting. We read the story in 3 parts, and students did not want me to stop each time. – Deanna Nadeau
The nation’s prestigious Milken Educator Award Winner (2004)
and Assistant Principal, Geiger Elementary School, Lewiston, Maine
Well paced, engaging, and easy to read “…weaves beautifully written details and vibrant visuals …it is well paced, engaging, and easy to read. The reader is rewarded with a glimpse of another culture, and it offers children the opportunity to expand vocabulary and embrace cultural connections. … it would be an excellent book to use in K-5 reading. …the illustrations were very vivid and added to the story.
– Kathie J. Heusel, Milken Educator Award (2008), Great Falls, Montana
Excellent addition to an elementary classroom’s library “Viku and the Elephant would make an excellent addition to an elementary classroom’s multicultural library. …provides an opportunity for teachers to engage their students in discussion of culturally-sacred issues vs. for-profit issues.
– Sharon Moser, Ph.D., Milken Educator Award (2004), Frostproof, Florida.
Very vivid and colorful “A very entertaining and informational story. Debu not only tells an enchanting story of a boy, his family and a pet elephant but he also teaches Indian culture. The illustrations are very vivid and colorful. While I teach middle school – this story will be beneficial for examples of writing style and voice. A must read for all elementary classes.”
– Mikki Samargis-Nuckols, Milken Educator Award (2007), Rocky Mountain Middle School, Idaho Falls, Idaho
Transported to India “I have never been to India, but Debu Majumdar transported me there through the adventures of a boy. … easy to read story that children of all ages will surely learn from and enjoy. Lynn Wolf’s illustrations tie the story together with color and beautiful art that helps draw the reader into the story.”
– Chris Wilmes, Milken Educator Award (2006), Edgemont Elementary school, Idaho Falls, Idaho