The Elephant Thief – Jane Kerr

     The Elephant Thief – Jane Kerr, Chicken House, (9781524700386), 2018

Format: paperback ARC

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Genre: historical fiction

What did you like about the book?  Danny is a pickpocket who gets an adventure he doesn’t expect when he accidentally bids on an elephant named Maharajah at auction. Danny is mute, poor and mixed-race, but his life changes forever when he is picked up by the staff at Belle Vue and transformed into an Indian prince. When the affection between him and Maharajah becomes obvious, Danny (Prince Dandip now) is roped into riding Maharajah from Edinburgh to Manchester in one week as part of a bet with a rival zookeeper. Along the way their trip is beset with problems and it seems obvious that someone is trying to sabotage their mission. Danny’s connections from the past are a problem, as well. Is Danny and Maharajah’s connection strong enough to help them win out in the end?

This novel is based on true events, but has been fictionalized for effect. Almost every chapter ends in suspense and students will be unable to stop turning pages to see what happens next. The action is non-stop, especially at the exciting conclusion. Students will love to see the connection between Maharajah and Danny; I would argue this book has one of the best human-animal connections I’ve read in a while. Finally, Danny’s growth as a character is remarkable in this book, especially for someone who (almost) never says a word.

To whom would you recommend this book? Students who enjoy adventures or are big animal lovers would like this book.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No; it was a great story!

Who should buy this book? Most middle schools and elementary schools

Where would you shelve it? historical fiction

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Laura Gardner, Dartmouth Middle School, Dartmouth, MA

Date reviewed: March 5, 2018

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