Reading the final push before my presentation. Akimbo and the Elephants was recommended to me as something for the youngest on my list. It's an environmental mystery...a genre that I have had some interest in in the past.
Akimbo lives with his father at the edge of a large game reservation in an unnamed African country. Akimbo had a love affair with the elephants more than any other animal.
"It was not the leopards, or even the lions, that Akimbo liked to watch. He loved the elephants best of all. You had to keep clear of them, too, but they seemed more gentle than many of the other creatures. Akimbo loved their vast, lumbering shapes. He loved the way that they moved their trunks slowly, this way and that as they plodded across the plains between the stretches of forest..." (p3-4)
So imagine Akimbo's horror when his father explained what poachers are, and tells him that there are poachers hunting on the reserve - killing elephants for their ivory. This hits home for Akimbo when he accompanies his father and coworkers deep into the reserve and he sees an elephant that has been killed for its' tusks.
Akimbo decides at that moment that he has to do something. He hatches a plan to catch the poachers in the act. It is dangerous and many things can go wrong, but Akimbo knows in his heart that he must act.
This is a fast paced mystery with a heart of gold. McCall Smith writes beautifully and the illustrations by LeUyen Pham enrich the story. This is perfect for the 3rd grade and up set who are so passionate about social justice.