“Humans are everywhere. No matter where we go” — Star’s mother, Surviving the Wild: Star the Elephant, p. 43.
|Creator(s)||Remy Lai (author and illustrator)|
|Publisher||Henry Holt and Co.|
|Genre||Fiction, Animal Comic|
|Environmental Themes and Issues||Animal Captivity, Animals in Danger, Anthropomorphism, Conservation, Consumerism, Deforestation, Educational Nature Facts, Endangered Species, Environmental Activism, Habitat Destruction, Pollution, Recycling, Sustainability|
|Protagonist’s Identity||Star: A young male Asian elephant|
|Protagonist’s Level of Environmental Agency||Level 3: High Environmental Agency|
|Settings||Malaysia and Singapore|
Star the Elephant is the first volume in Remy Lai’s Surviving the Wild series, which teaches children about environmental issues affecting animals around the world. This comic centers on Star, a five-year-old Asian elephant who lives with his herd in Malaysia. At first, the elephants live an idyllic life in the forest. However, they struggle to survive when humans encroach on their habitat and tear down the forest to grow crops. The starving herd decides to split up to find safer places to live. Together, Star, his mother, and his aunt swim across the river to a remote island in search of a refuge from humans.
On the island, the elephants are disappointed to find more humans. They try to evade these people, but a group of humans soon capture Star’s mother and aunt. Left alone in the wilderness, Star must try to survive and find his way back to his family.
Based on a true story, Star the Elephant teaches children about numerous environmental issues affecting Indian elephants, such as deforestation and pollution. The comic covers these problems in an age-appropriate format suitable for young readers and ends on an uplifting note by depicting humans relocating the elephants to a sanctuary.
The graphic novel’s backmatter includes a short comic about three bull elephants that inspired Star’s story. In 1990, these elephants traveled from Malaysia to Singapore after their home was destroyed by deforestation. The Singapore Armed Forces captured and humanely relocated the elephants to Endau-Rompin National Park.
Additionally, the graphic novel includes facts about Asian and African elephants and threats to their habitats. In a short paratextual comic, Star encourages readers to help protect animals through simple actions like recycling, choosing sustainable products, and planting trees.