Author ORCID Identifier

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Leah McCormack


The Ellows is a children’s novel that explores the concepts of selfishness and sacrifice, grief and hope, and identity and meaning. The story—which revolves around three children who must work together to save the Ellows, a group of shape-shifting, plant-guardian creatures on the brink of extinction—champions ecocentrism over anthropocentrism and pushes against narrow-mindedness. In so doing, the novel advocates for one thing above all—compassion toward the natural world, toward oneself, and toward what might be seen as the Other—whether human, animal, magical creature, or plant. The novel opens with a prologue that provides a glimpse into the Ellows’ unique role in our world—as well as the catastrophic flood that led their leader to cast a spell on them all. When chapter one begins, Ingo, an Ellow stuck in the shape of a frog, is fretting about how few days are left until the spell can no longer be broken. He is distraught yet also remains hopeful as he sits in the yard of 12-year-old Gabe, hoping he can find a way to communicate with the boy who possesses an object the Ellows desperately need. For his part, Gabe is in a state of denial over the recent accidental car death of his father, but after his mother takes him to see the tree that his father’s car struck, Gabe accepts the death and simultaneously realizes that the injured tree is also in pain from the accident. The novel unfolds from these opening scenes as Gabe and his neighborhood friends, Ali and Grace, slowly come to understand the plight of the Ellows. The three child protagonists are led by Ingo via a series of clues and riddles to discover the Ellows’ current hiding place. Soon, the children find themselves on a mission to save the Ellows, who, in turn, hold the power to save the Earth from pending ecological disaster. The saving of the Ellows becomes a task of existential proportion.

Subject Categories

Creative Writing | English Language and Literature



Number of Pages



University of South Dakota

Available for download on Saturday, December 04, 2027