Four orphans have escaped from the Home for Friendless Children. One is Lucy, who used to talk and sing. No one knows why she doesn’t speak anymore; silence is her protection.
The orphans find work and new friends at a traveling circus. Lucy loves caring for the elephants, but she must be able to speak to them, and to warn others of danger. If Lucy doesn’t find her voice, she’ll be left behind when the circus goes on the rails. Meanwhile, people are searching for Lucy, and her puzzling past is about to catch up with her. This lively, heartwarming novel by is full of marvels and surprises.
The book is written at a level for 4th to 8th grade readers (and adults). It has many plot elements that will appeal to readers who like mystery and adventure: circus life, selective mutism, a separated family, friendship, and elephants. It’s an excellent choice for a classroom or book club discussion, especially about science and experimentation on human subjects. The author based the story on a true psychological experiment, known as “The Monster Study.”
In each Bookstorm™, we offer a bibliography of books that have close ties to the the featured book. We’ve included books, articles, websites, and videos for a variety of tastes and interests.
You’ll find more information about Gennifer Choldenko on her website.
Circus Fiction and Nonfiction. Much of the book is set within the environs of a circus. The circus performers and staff are an interesting assortment of kind and brave, caring and thoughtful, as well as mean-hearted and evil.
Elephants. There are many stories of elephants in fiction and nonfiction. An elephant plays a major role in Orphan Eleven. Here are books to learn more about these pachyderms, as well as a website for Save the Elephants.
Little People. Jabo is a little person who aspires to be the ringmaster of Sacchi’s Circus. He is a kind, helpful character. Can you think of another novel that features a character who is a little person?
The Monster Study. Learn more about the real psychological study behind this book.
Orphanages. Readers have been fascinated by orphan stories for as long as there have been printed books. The Home for Friendless Children is an unhappy place, enough so that the orphans do their best to escape.
Selective Mutism. Lucy, the main character, does not speak. She communicates by writing. Selective mutism is known to psychologists. We suggest a number of books that have been written on the subject.
Sewing. Lucy’s sister is a seamstress. She plays an important part in Orphan Eleven. The work she does may interest readers in sewing on their own.
Sisters. One of the central themes of the book, Lucy has been alone at the orphanage for a very long time. Has her sister forgotten about her?
Stuttering. For those who stutter, it is often embarrassing and may cause that person to guard how they speak. There are a number of books with characters who stutter and there’s a website as well, established by a 13-year-old boy.
Let us know how you are making use of this Bookstorm™. Share your ideas and any other books you’d add to this Bookstorm™.