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A MARLEY AND ME-type story for elephant lovers.
Diane Hammond, the author of two previous novels, GOING TO BEND and HOMESICK CREEK, is the recipient of an Oregon Arts Commission literary fellowship and served as a spokesperson for the Free Willy Keiko Foundation and Oregon Coast Aquarium. She lives in Ben Oregon, with her husband and daughter.
Verdict: Featuring a cast of endearingly quirky characters (notably, an elephant named Hannah), this charming story enchants and provides a nice balance of lighthearted and poignant moments. Background: Hammond (Homesick Creek) creates an uplifting tale of a beloved elephant--the sensitive Hannah, brought from Burma by the Max L. Biedelman Zoo. The partially blind elephant has been the star attraction of the ailing small-town zoo for 40 years, and now the zoo is undergoing a revival under a new director. The elephant's aging caretaker, Sam, and Neva, the newest hire, only want the best for Hannah. Will that mean staying in the zoo or leaving for an elephant utopia?--Sarah E. Myers, Red Feather Lakes Community Lib., CO Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Hammond (Going to Bend) shares the story of "charismatic mega-vertebrate" Hannah, the elephant star of the failing Max L. Biedelman Zoo, in her sweet but slow third novel. Since the 1950s, Hannah; her loving caretaker, Sam; and the zoo have been languishing. Enter Harriet Saul, the zoo's ambitious new director, and Neva Wilson, an expert elephant keeper; both want to change things, but in different ways. Harriet's plan involves her dressing up as the eccentric zoo founder to give presentations and "commissioning original theme music" for a publicity campaign. Neva's idea is to move the aging Hannah to an elephant sanctuary, a plan supported by nearly everyone, including the zoo's milquetoast business manager. If the conflict sounds weak, it is; the friendship between Hannah and Sam and the gently informational lessons about elephant care are more memorable than the late-breaking battle. The narrative, with its sprawling cast (and attendant relationships and personal histories), often bogs down, but the moments of genuine emotion will charm readers in search of a happy ending. (Sept.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.