Title: The Elephant Thief
Author: Jane Kerr
Series: – –
Genre: Children’s Historical Fiction
Age Range: 9+
When pickpocket Danny accidentally bids for Maharajah the elephant at an Edinburgh auction, he’s swept up on an unforgettable journey.
His new employer, a zookeeper, transforms Danny into a bejewelled Indian prince. As he rides Maharajah from Scotland to his new home in England, even Queen Victoria follows their journey with delight.
But a rival zookeeper wagers on their failure, and soon Danny’s shady connections threaten to overturn the mission …
Source: Review copy from Chicken House Books via Amazon Vine
Loosely based on real events (the elephant walk was real, Danny and his adventures were not) this is an exciting tale of a street orphan, an elephant and a rather foolish bet, with danger, friendship and plenty of twists along the way.
Our hero, Danny, starts off as a lowly street thief who doesn’t even have a name, but through the story he learns not only that he has value as a person, no matter where he started, but that there are good people in the world that he can trust. The most important being Maharajah, the elephant, who is great and grand but also gentle. I loved the relationship that grows between the two of them and it’s easy to want them to win the race.
Except this story isn’t just about these two – there’s also Mr Jameson, Maharajah’s new owner, and Arthur Albright, the rival zoo owner who wants to take everything away from him; Sandev, the man who has looked after Maharajah for years and teaches Danny everything he needs to know in order to care for him; Mr Saddleworth, the vet who helps Danny along the way and his daughter, Hetty, a smart girl who might just become a friend to Danny – if she ever stops talking first. There’s also the ever-present threat of nasty people from Danny’s past deciding to come after him, as if he didn’t already have enough to worry about riding an elephant from Edinburgh to Manchester in a week.
Along the way they naturally meet with all kinds of adventures and mishaps, some of which turn out to be very dangerous indeed, and always the worry that they might not make – and the consequences of if they don’t.
Suitable for both boys and girls, especially if they like adventure or animals, this book is fun at times, exciting at others, with some sadness and a lot of heart. Danny is brave, Hetty is smart and Maharajah is wonderful, and I really enjoyed it.
The Elephant Thief is Out Now.
Visit Jane Kerr for more details.