What's in it for Me?

By LS Stone

What's in it for Me?
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What's in it for Me? - Summer is only a month away, but things aren't going according to plan for fifteen-year-old Nick Bannerman. Nick dreams of making it big in music, and summer means scoring a deal for his band, mega parties, surfing in Tofino--and not much else. His best ... Read more


What's in it for Me? - Summer is only a month away, but things aren't going according to plan for fifteen-year-old Nick Bannerman. Nick dreams of making it big in music, and summer means scoring a deal for his band, mega parties, surfing in Tofino--and not much else. His best friend, Trevor, wants him to spend the summer with him in Africa building a school with a changemaker organization, but Nick isn't at all interested. Unlike Trevor, Nick has no interest in global activism, volunteering, or physical labour. So how does a teen like Nick, intent on being a famous rock star, end up in Thailand volunteering at an elephant refuge?

Meanwhile, in glimpses from Africa, Trevor learns about Kenyan culture and language from twelve-year-old local boy, Kito, and encounters child soldiers who threaten the young boy's family.

Back at the refuge, Nick meets sixteen-year-old Camila, an intimidating and self-assured local girl who wants to be a mahout, even though local tradition won't allow it. When Nick encounters an extreme animal rights activist, drugged tigers, and rampaging elephants, will he have the courage to act and care about more than just himself?

With themes of: elephants, global activism, animal rights and welfare, social activism, volunteering, feminism and female empowerment, coming of age, and the complex and controversial topic of elephant captivity, What's in it for Me? is an excellent middle-grade novel to spark classroom discussions.

Teacher resources available on publisher website: https://www. rebelmountainpress. com/whats-in-it-for-me-teacher-resources. html

LS Stone

LS Stone has loved animals since childhood and is passionate about animal rights and welfare, and social justice. She also loves exciting adventure travel and has trekked the Himalayas in Nepal, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, and volunteered at an elephant refuge in Thailand. She received a B.A. in Creative Writing at Vancouver Island University where she won the Bill Juby Award, and Meadowlarks Award for outstanding writing. Previous publications include Breaking Boundaries: LGBTQ2 Writers on Coming Out and Into Canada. This is her first novel. LS Stone lives in Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island with her wife and three dogs, and is planning her next big adventure.


Chapter 9 -Nick (Thailand)

"Bringing home strays again, hey Mum?" The girl who greeted us at the compound had a booming voice. "Who's this bloke, then?" She was hosing down a young elephant. The saggy, grey skin around his face and shoulders was splattered with faint patches of red, blue, green, and yellow, and he had his trunk wrapped loosely around her waist.

"That's my daughter, Camila," Anna said to me, then raised her voice to answer her daughter. "This is Nick, from Canada. He'll be staying with us for a few days before I take him with me to Chiang Mai. "

Compared to her mother's milk-white skin, Camila's skin was brown and she had shoulder-length dark hair, razor-sharp cheekbones, and big, dark brown eyes. I guessed her father might be Latino. When she sauntered toward us, the elephant made a noise like a trumpet in protest of her leaving. Her gaze was direct and serious, as if daring you to try and cross her--it made me feel uncomfortable and want to look away.

"Canada, eh?" Camila eyed me up and down as if she were taking measurements. "It's been a while since we've had a Canuck here. "

"Oh, you like hockey?" I said, referring to a Canadian hockey team--the Vancouver Canucks.

I guess she wasn't a hockey fan because she curled her top lip into a sour face, like I'd just said something really stupid.

"Watch your back!" Camila suddenly pushed me to swing around.

Behind me a very large elephant lumbered past with a Thai man astride it like a horse--except there was no saddle, and the man straddled its neck, not its back. On its two long tusks were speared several large bales of hay.

"Never turn your back to an elephant," Camila said, "especially not to the males. "

"What's wrong with the males?"

"Nothing's wrong with the males. " The tone of her voice was beginning to bug me.

"Many of them have been mistreated and learned to be quite aggressive and unpredictable. " She pointed to the elephant that had just passed. "That one killed his abusive owner. If it wasn't for us, he would have been shot by the authorities. "


LS Stone perfectly captures the voice and perspective of a teenager. Despite his initial self-interest, Stone does a good job of making Nick a character at once real and sympathetic. He voices the concerns and worries that most of us have when it comes to volunteering abroad, but he also possesses a general care for people and for animals, along with just enough self-awareness to make him a character readers can root for. Seeing Nick grow and change throughout the novel will inspire readers to empathize with his personal journey, and might even convince teens to volunteer at an elephant refuge or even build a school in Kenya. All readers, teenaged or otherwise, will leave What's in it for Me? feeling both challenged and empowered to make a difference in the world. ~ The British Columbia Review

Author L S Stone's first novel, What's in it for Me?, contains those elements of a captivating story that not only make it fun and exciting to read but leaves the reader thinking about it afterwards. Stone provides an interesting variety of characters with traits and personalities the young adult reader can relate to. The characterizations add humour and drama to the story. The duo voice storytelling, with the insertion of text messages between Nick and Trevor, adds interest and different perspectives. The author's knowledge of global and social issues particularly involving elephant sanctuaries is presented in a manner that encourages the reader to become more informed about them. What's in it for Me? is an entertaining and captivating book for young adults. The combination of readers' sitting on the edge of their seats and smiling at the humourous antics of the characters keeps the momentum of the story. Finally, the vivid depiction of the elephants is fascinating. Highly Recommended ~Canadian Review of Materials

"What's In It For Me will be a hit with animal lovers and those who love adventures. This fascinating glimpse into the world of elephant sanctuaries and international volunteering is also a delightful tale about the unexpected friendships that can happen when we are doing good things in the world. LS Stone's debut novel is a treat. " . "Susan Juby , award-winning author, The Woefield Poultry Collective and The Truth Commission

"A fascinating story that will entrance young readers from the first page to the last. I couldn't put it down. From a glimpse into the disturbing world of Kenyan's child soldiers to the heart-warming workings of a Thai elephant rescue centre, Stone weaves a coming-of-age-story like no other. "-Julie Burtinshaw, award-winning author, Saying Goodbye to London

"I felt transported with Nick and Camila to beautiful Thailand for this fun and exciting elephant adventure that had me grinning in delight or transfixed on the edge of my seat. LS Stone's writing is full of humour, but doesn't shy away from shining a light on complicated topics like elephant captivity and tourism, and female rights and empowerment. A mesmerizing first novel for LS Stone. " Chantal Hughes, author/contributor, Breaking Boundaries: LGBTQ2 Writers on Coming Out and Into Canada

"What's in it for Me? is a perfect fit for entertaining young readers while introducing them to important topics of animal welfare, social justice, and global activism. I also really appreciated the depiction of Camila, the strong, self-assured female character. Once I started reading, I didn't want to put the book down!" Lisa King, Teacher -Librarian

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