Bandoola was an exceptional elephant. It seems that his trainer, ‘Elephant’ Bill Williams, recognised his abilities immediately. What’s more, he had capabilities beyond other elephants, such as ‘being able to understand many human words, identify all the tools in camp’, and show ‘a sense of humour‘.

Yet the bond between the trainer and elephant saw them united through sickness and health, injury and work, night and day. Thereafter, it led to the pair leading ‘43 women and children, 53 elephants, 40 armed soldiers, 90 oozies and assistants and four British military officers’ to safety.

Although seemingly half a world away from WWII, in fact, the Japanese invasion of South East Asia was a harsh and rigorous campaign. Therefore, for foreign troops, workers and industries in the region, safety or retreat was essential. However, Bill Williams and Po Toke, his loyal, trusted and learned associate, decided on a daring option. It meant travelling ‘190 kilometres of perilous jungle, countless towering mountains, as well as the threat of attacks from tigers or human enemies‘.

William Grill describes the setting and history clearly and confidently. Thereafter, we step into Myanmar with a special man, realising the under appreciated strengths of elephants. What’s more, we appreciate an entirely different world, a phenomenal journey and dangerous period in history. Bandoola is a moving, overwhelming, and magnificent non-fiction picture book. We love and recommend this book to readers of all ages.

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The Great Elephant Rescue

William Grill

(Flying Eye Books)– hardback

It seems Bandoola was a phenomenal Asian elephant who triumphed against overwhelming danger. Furthermore, this elephant possessed ability, strength, commitment and a deep trust with his trainer, Elephant Bill Williams. What’s more, Bandoola’s training was different from others in Myanmar’s logging industry. It seems he was an experiment that Bill undertook to prove that kindness was better than ‘kheddaring’. Thereafter, with his friend, Po Toke, who ‘knew elephants more than his elders‘, Williams trained a young calf into ‘a huge and beautiful tusker with remarkable abilities’;. 
Thereafter, Williams and PoToke worked together to form an elephant school, where elephants learned to be tuskers, ‘compassionately’.  However their success was disrupted by WWII. Furthermore, as the Japanese advance became more dangerous, Williams felt it necessary to undertake a perilous journey. However, this would mean a perilous trek through malaria struck, tiger and enemy hunting jungle to India? Furthermore, this was a party of ‘64 women and children, 53 elephants, 40 armed soldiers, 90 oozies and assistants and four British military officers’ . How could it hope to make safety?
Alongside  history, geography, biography and zoology, William Grill contemplates the state of our planet. What’s more, we examine the decline of elephant numbers alongside that of the native forests in Myanmar. It seems that this writer’s picture graphs and sequenced storytelling are particularly poignant and hard-hitting. It means that as with The Wolves of Currumpaw we are informed, inspired and moved. Bookwagon is absorbed by Bandoola. Altogether, we recommend that readers of all ages take up this outstanding non-fiction picture book.


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