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Aussie Bites : Elephant Mountain - Brian Janeen

Aussie Bites : Elephant Mountain

By: Brian Janeen, Sally Rippin (Illustrator)

Paperback

Published: 4th February 2008
For Ages: 6+ years old
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Kasem lives in Thailand, in an elephant camp situated in a mountain valley not far from the coast. His father, Kovit, is a mahout who takes tourists on elephant treks up the mountain.

I'll always look after you,' Karem says to the little elephant. But will Karem be able to keep his promise?

Young readers will love these mouthwatering, bite-sized stories from their favourite authors and illustrators.

About the Author

Janeen Brian is the author of many books including three CBC Notable Books, Dog-Star, Duck Down and Rocky, and the popular Aussie Nibble, Party Time.

'Kasem! Hurry!' yelled Pravat. 'There's a new elephant. A baby!'

Kasem left the picture he was drawing. It was ages since there'd been a baby in the camp. He dashed out of his family's bamboo hut in the rainforest of Thailand. Triumphant with the news, Pravat grinned as he raced Kasem across the camp yard.

Kasem wondered why his friend always had to be the best at everything. He put on an extra spurt of speed. Laughing, he leaped onto Pravat's back and cried, 'There! I caught up!'

'I slowed down,' Pravat said with a smirk.

'You didn't!'

'Yes, I did. I didn't want to see you cry!' Pravat darted away from him and pointed. 'See, the baby's over there!'

Playfully pushing one another, the boys reached the big camp building. Mr Supat Taman, the camp manager, was standing outside it, speaking to Kasem's and Pravat's fathers. Both men were mahouts, which meant that they were given responsibility for particular elephants. Kasem's father, Kovit, looked after two old elephants, Jabu and Mae Perm. Kasem longed to be a mahout, but he knew he wasn't old enough.

Perhaps his father was going to be the little elephant's new mahout? Kasem felt a pang. How wonderful it would be if he could have that job!

Kasem and the elephant were about the same height, but patches of brown-red hair on the animal's trunk showed that it was still young. Where was its mother? And why had the men bothered to secure it with a leg-rope? The elephant seemed very weak. It shuffled jerkily on the dusty ground as if at any minute its legs would buckle.

'What happened to this baby?' asked Kovit.

Kasem glanced up. Now that he'd had time to look more closely, he'd seen the deep cuts and scars on the elephant's flanks. Part of its left ear was missing, too.

'We found her about twenty kilometres north of here,' said Mr Taman. 'She'd been part of a wild herd. Somehow she was jammed between two trees. I think she'd been there a while.'

'Why didn't her mother knock down the trees to get her out?' Kasem asked. But the moment he spoke, he realised he should have held his tongue. The men would think him impolite, bursting in on their business. He ignored Pravat's deliberate nudge.

Luckily, Mr Taman smiled at him. 'A good question. We could see that the area had been trampled. So the elephant's mother, and probably her aunties, had all tried to save her. But the trees were too big for them to move.'

Kasem imagined the elephants' distress. Their trumpeting would have shaken the trees and echoed among the mountains.

Pravat nudged him again, and then whispered behind his hand, 'Let's go fishing. We don't want to stay around here on the first day of the school holidays. We might be given a job, like shovelling up elephant droppings.'

'Wait,' said Kasem. Something was going on. The men were talking and nodding.

Pravat gave Kasem an impatient look. 'Stay if you want, but I'm off to have fun.' He turned to go. 'See you!'

Kasem hesitated. Did he want to go with Pravat, or stay?

Mr Taman looked around. 'Pravat has gone?' he asked, surprised. 'Well, Kasem, I thought I would have to make a choice between you two boys, but now I won't have to. This is the tourist season, as you know. We have many bookings for elephant treks already. How would you like to look after this little one during that busy time? Your father would supervise you.'

Kasem felt as if all the air had left his chest. 'Me?'

'Yes.'

Kasem wanted to throw his arms around Mr Taman, but he knew that would not be polite. So he stood still, hands clasped. When his father gave him a questioning look, he nodded, his eyes wide and shining. He'd make both men proud of him!

'Has she got a name?' he asked, darting a joyful glance in the little elephant's direction.

'No, not yet,' replied Mr Taman. 'When she is given to her new mahout, he will name her. If they are to be trained properly, the animals must learn only one name. You understand?'

'Yes, Mr Taman.'

But Kasem already had a secret name for the elephant. He would call her Pooky.

'Good. Now to work.' Mr Taman patted Kasem on the shoulder and strolled off.

Kasem couldn't believe his luck. He'd feed and wash the little elephant and help her grow strong. Overcome with excitement, he stretched out his hand. He'd only meant to pat her, but she lifted her trunk and gave a thin, high-pitched wail.

Kovit pushed Kasem's hand away and frowned at him. 'She's young, hurt, and still wild,' he said. 'Do not make sudden movements.'

'I'm sorry, Por.' Kasem felt hot with shame. He had much to learn. One day he would be a good mahout, like his father.

'The elephant must always be able to trust you, Kasem,' Kovit went on. 'That is what is important. That, and caring for it. Now, go and collect food for her. Perhaps one banana. Give it as a treat.'

Kasem nodded so hard that he felt his head would wobble off his neck. Once his father was gone, he whispered, 'You can trust me, Pooky. I'll always look after you, I promise.' And he hurried off to gather an armful of leaves and grass.

Sally Rippin

Sally Rippin was born in Darwin and grew up in South-East Asia. As a young adult she studied traditional Chinese painting for three years in Shanghai and Hangzhou, which inspired her first novel Chenxi and the Foreigner.

Sally is the author of many books for children, including the popular Billie B Brown and Hey Jack! series, and the highly acclaimed children's novel Angel Creek. Currently, she lives in Melbourne with her partner and three sons, and writes and illustrates full time.

Sally is a regular fixture at Writing Festivals and Workshops across Australia and overseas. She also teaches Writing for Children at RMIT University, is a mentor for the Australian Society of Authors and is one of the Victorian Premier’s Reading Challenge Ambassadors.

Visit Sally Rippin's Booktopia Author Page


ISBN: 9780143303282
ISBN-10: 0143303287
Series: Aussie Bites Ser.
Audience: Children
For Ages: 6+ years old
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 96
Published: 4th February 2008
Dimensions (cm): 19.800 x 13.1  x 0.700
Weight (kg): 19.9
Edition Number: 1