Som See and the Magic Elephant


32 pages
ISBN 1-895340-04-7
DDC jC813'.54





Illustrations by Jo'Anne Kelly
Reviewed by Steve Pitt

Steve Pitt is a Toronto-based freelance writer and an award-winning journalist. He has written many young adult and children's books, including Day of the Flying Fox: The True Story of World War II Pilot Charley Fox.


Som See is a young girl living in rural Thailand. Her great-aunt, Pa
Nang, tells Som See about a huge white elephant named Chang that the
king used to ride on special occasions. When she was a little girl, Pa
Nang touched Chang’s trunk for good luck. Now Pa Nang wishes she could
touch that trunk again, because she is sure she is about to begin her
long journey into the next world.

Som See decides to try and find Chang so that she can ask him to renew
her great-aunt’s luck. She wanders into the rainforest and becomes
lost. Eventually she finds Chang and he agrees to accompany Som See to
her village. They arrive just in time. Pa Nang touches Chang’s trunk.
The next day, Som See finds her great-aunt’s hammock empty and knows
Pa Nang has begun her journey.

This is one of those rare children’s books that deals with the
subject of death—and in a gentle way. The plot is not dramatic, but
positive social values are quietly championed in the four-generation
relationship between Som See and her great aunt. In creating this tale,
Oliviero draws on years of living and teaching experience in Thailand.
Jo’Anne Kelly’s silk drawings and batik designs are eye-catching and
nicely capture the mood of story line. Highly recommended.


Oliviero, Jamie., “Som See and the Magic Elephant,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 25, 2024,