When the Elephants Dance



Title:  When the Elephants Dance

Author: Tess Uriza Holthe

Genre: Multicultural, Literary Fiction

Publication Date: 2002

Number of Pages: 368

Geographical Setting: Philippines

Time Period: 1941-1945

Format:  Hardcover

Plot Summary:  Tess Uriza Holthe has written a family story like no other. She tells the tale of the Karangalan family in the Philippines during World War II. The Japanese are rounding up and interrogating people and waging a fierce battle against the Americans. In order to survive, this family along with their friends and neighbors crowd together in a cellar and tell spellbinding tales based on Filipino myth and legend. These magical passages of Filipino culture absolutely transport the reader to a place and time far away but only for a short period of time until you are forced back into the fear and unknowing that this family faces every day. Within this book is a wonderful mix of history, humor and magical conversation that will have you wanting more as it comes to a close.

Subject Headings:  History, Fiction, Philippines, Japanese occupation, Folklore, War

Appeal:  engrossing, dramatic, heartwarming, hopeful, humorous, magical, eccentric, detailed, inspiring, vivid, cinematic, character-centered, historical details, detailed setting, conversational, metaphorical, unusual, poetic

3 Terms That Best Describe This Book: metaphorical, dramatic and heartwarming

Similar Authors and Works

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Captured: The Japanese Internment of American Civilianns in the Philippines, 1941-1945 by Frances B Cogan-For any reader of When the Elephants Dance who is interested in the history behind the story.

Ghost Soldiers: The Forgotten Epic Story of World War II’s Most Dramatic Mission by Hampton Sides- This gripping tale will illuminate the struggle with Japan in the Philippines during WWII. This nonfiction book that reads like fiction will have readers captivated by this personal story of struggle.

Philippine Folk Tales by Mabel Cook Cole-This collection of traditional folk tales will interest readers of When the Elephants Dance who want to delve into the background of some of the tales they read about in Holthe’s novel.

 3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Camera Soldiers: The Philippine Odyssey by James Russell Stephens-The fictional story of a team of soldier whose job it is to take photographs to document the war. It is set in the Philippines in 1942 during World War II.  It would appeal to readers of When the Elephants Dance who are looking for a story from the other side’s point of view.

Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat-A harrowing story that includes political violence and the supernatural. The ideas of tradition, suffering and the history of a people will resonate with readers of When the Elephants Dance.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz-A fantastical story with a conversational narrative that is heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. The story tells the tale of a family from the Dominican Republic and their life during and after the time of dictator Rafael Trujillo.

Name:  Mary Othic

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