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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
by Rene Guillot
Age Range: 9-11
Fifteen-year-old Serge lives in Paris; he’s blessed with flawless coordination and an extraordinary sympathy for animals in his work in a circus as a trick rider, tight-rope dancer and an acrobat. One day on his way home Serge gets knocked down by the driver of a speeding Jaguar car. Luckily he has only a few minor scratches and bruises but the driver, Luc Janiak, takes him to a café so that he can recover from the shock. It turns out that Luc works as a cameraman for Monsieur Mitchowsky a film producer. They are planning to make a film set in Africa on Elephant Road – the African elephant territory. Luc introduces Serge to Mitchowsky and the producer is very impressed by him as he is exactly the type of boy he needs for his film.
While on location Serge meets a boy whose life is very similar to the life he portrays on the screen. As he and Serge become good friends they go on to experience exciting adventures in the elephant country.
French author Renè Guillot (1900-1969) was a master of the adventure genre and most of his novels have a lot of action and thrilling explorations that are set in unusual places. He received the biennial Hans Christian Andersen Medal in 1964. Guillot brings a certain cinematic realism to his story which not only has adventure but also the location in which he writes about is believable. Richard Graves’ translation is superb with accompanying illustrations by Don Higgins.
Other Guillot titles on the website include: Nicolette and the Mill (1960), Mokokambo, the Lost Land (1961), Balloon Journey (1964), Three Girls and a Secret (1964) and Tipiti, the Robin (1968).