Picture of author.

Ellen Banda-Aaku

Teoksen The Elephant Girl tekijä

5+ teosta 79 jäsentä 4 arvostelua

Tietoja tekijästä

Sisältää nimen: Ellen Mulenda Banda-Aaku

Tekijän teokset

The Elephant Girl (2022) 46 kappaletta, 2 arvostelua
Patchwork (2011) 28 kappaletta, 2 arvostelua
Sula and Ja (2016) 3 kappaletta
Twelve months (2010) 1 kappale

Associated Works

Merkitty avainsanalla


United Kingdom
Woking, Surrey, England, UK
Palkinnot ja kunnianosoitukset
Zambia Arts Council Chairpersons Ngoma Award



I read this as part of my Read Around the World challenge as a book set in Zambia. The author herself was born in England but grew up in Zambia. This story begins with Pumpkin as a nine year old child, the daughter of an alcoholic single mother and a wealthy married businessman. Her father takes Pumpkin to live with his wife and family when he realises the extent of her mother’s drinking. Pumpkin’s life shifts from poverty to wealthy excess, but she still feels unloved, living a difficult life, in her stepmother’s house. The second half of the book shows us Pumpkin as a wife and mother. All the way through Pumpkin is not necessarily a likeable character being a pathological liar amongst other things. In fact none of the characters are very likeable; from her bitter grandmother to her philandering father and alcoholic neglectful mother. The book also highlights some of the political tensions with nearby Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). In 1978 the Air Rhodesia Flight 825 was shot down by the Zimbabwean People’s Revolutionary Army. The surviving passengers were then shot and killed by the Zimbabwe African People’s Union led by Joshua Nkomo. Nkomo’s guerilla bases in Zambia, particularly his military headquarters near the capital Lusaka, were attacked in response.

Overall an interesting book but not one of my favourites so far.
… (lisätietoja)
Merkitty asiattomaksi
mimbza | 1 muu arvostelu | Apr 27, 2024 |
This was a sweet story about a young girl and a baby elephant who both lose their mothers on the same day and develop an breakable bond. I loved Jama and adored Mbegu.

Full of sadness and hope, “The Elephant .Girl” was a lovely novel for primary school students. It would be a lovely book to share out loud with a class. There were lots of issues that could be discussed.
Merkitty asiattomaksi
HeatherLINC | 1 muu arvostelu | Jun 3, 2023 |
The love for elephants mixes with natural scenes and the determination of a young girl to draw in with heart and a tad bit of tension.

Twelve-year-old Jama has bigger dreams than the rest of the people in her village...not that she knows exactly what they are. No one except her family members seems to understand her. Her happy spot is watching the elephants at the watering hole, and after time, they seem to like her, too. When she runs across some dark secrets about the local head ranger of the conservancy, she's not sure what to do, but even that turns into a small problem when her own mother is trampled to death by the creatures she most loves, and the village declares revenge.

Except for the end, can I just say I really enjoyed this read? I'm not usually a fan of more serious, dramatic tales with obvious messages, but this one grabbed in the first pages and held me the entire way through. More surprising, it wasn't so much the action (yep, I'm an action girl at heart) but Jama as a character. It's rare that a character drives me through a read and even rarer that I want to now incorporate this one into the reading list for my homeschooled daughter. (I think this is, actually, a first).

This tale flows naturally and introduces Jama with familiarity as it peeks at life in an African village. The town barely has electricity, the villagers are in their own worlds, and it should feel exotic...but it with all of this, there's still enough sense of 'usual' that readers can sink right in. Details and scenes introduce a little of the daily life while keeping it more as a background setting. Because it's Jama and her desire to discover herself, which takes the stage. Even her connection with the elephants isn't over-the-top but gentle and realistic, making it easy to connect to and understand.

There's quite a bit of drama going on around Jama and not the cliche bullying a reader might suspect. She does have some problems with her peers, but this flashes by just enough to make the reader understand letting the entire atmosphere of the village, elders, and life filter in. Her supportive family and her independence make sure the bullying doesn't over-power the main journey of self-discovery. Plus, despite her inability to conform, it's not even a state she pursues. Yet, she's not confident as insecurity and hesitation make her likable and easy to root for. It's a refreshing and healthy mix.

Something is always happening, creating a very nice pacing most of the way through. While there are tense scenes, these never hit a level, which is too much even for the more sensitive end of the age group. I did find that it could have been more, actually. There's a death, which didn't seem as important to Jama as it should have, and the ending promised tension, which never came, as if glazed over. But then, as said above, the entire ending felt dumped in quickly as if to simply round things off. And yet, I still found this read, in general, very good and will close my eyes for the last bit.

I do recommend this one highly (obviously) and am glad I took the journey with Jama. I received an ARC and definitely enjoyed the read.
… (lisätietoja)
Merkitty asiattomaksi
tdrecker | 1 muu arvostelu | Jul 25, 2022 |
Set in Zambia, “Patchwork” tells the poignant story of Pumpkin, a bastard child who grows up to become an emotionally tormented woman. The novel opens in the 1970s when Pumpkin is a 9-year-old girl. Her father is a wealthy businessman with a family of his own; her mother is an alcoholic who believes that someday Pumpkin’s father will marry her. Because of her mother’s drinking problem, her father eventually takes Pumpkin to live with his family, a decision that his wife does not handle well.

The tale of Pumpkin’s childhood is heartbreaking - the neglect and poverty of life with her mother, the longing she has for her father’s love, the aching estrangement she feels from her father’s family. In the second portion of the book, Pumpkin is an adult, and she is still reacting to her childhood scars and trying to understand her relationship to her parents.

Pumpkin is a true-to-life character whose actions are understandable though not commendable. The author makes the reader want to adopt the young Pumpkin and befriend the older Pumpkin. You want to somehow intervene and make her life better. The author has taken what could be a clichéd plot and made it something unique and heartbreaking.

It is also a book that is rich in African detail - the Zambian culture, the poverty and class differences, the political problems in the neighboring country of Rhodesia. These details are well integrated into the storyline, creating a strong sense of place without overpowering the plot.

“Patchwork” is a gritty novel filled with raw emotion, and Pumpkin is an unforgettable character. This well-written book won the 2010 Penguin Prize for African Writing. It is the author’s first novel, and I look forward to reading more from her in the future.
… (lisätietoja)
Merkitty asiattomaksi
Her_Royal_Orangeness | 1 muu arvostelu | Feb 25, 2012 |


You May Also Like

Associated Authors


Also by
Arvio (tähdet)
½ 3.6

Taulukot ja kaaviot