The Girl Who Stole an Elephant is an incredibly exciting, fast-paced and heart-warming adventure which I couldn’t bear to put down as it engrossed me from the opening, and kept me gripped throughout. This was one I read in one sitting, and am now enjoying reading to my Year 4 class who are completely gripped by it! The short chapters and many cliff-hanger chapter endings is making this a perfect read aloud for my class.
Chaya has a heart of gold and, even though the story opens with her stealing the Queen’s jewels, we soon learn that this is because she steals from the rich to help those in need as the King is neglecting the needs of his subjects.
Chaya has an incredibly loyal friend in Neel who is arrested after taking the blame for her theft, and admitting he has taken the jewels in order to protect her. Chaya refuses to let him accept the blame and orchestrates a daring rescue which leads to her stealing the King’s elephant and escaping into the jungle with Neel and Nour, the daughter of a rich merchant who Chaya blames for their predicament ….
Their journey through the jungle is richly described, full of wonder and beauty, but also danger as the children find themselves at the mercy of leeches; as they race to keep one step ahead of their pursuers; and, as they find themselves in the company of bandits.
The action was fast-paced, filled with a palpable sense of danger, which kept me on the edge of my seat as I tried to work out how Chaya could extricate herself and her friends from the dire situation that they found themselves in ….
I adored Chaya, Neel and Nour. Chaya puts the care of the villagers over her own safety and takes great risks to help them. She is brave, daring and has a real sense of fairness, fighting against the injustice she sees. Neel is an incredibly supportive and loyal friend who is prepared to put his life in danger to save his friend. Nour is the daughter of a rich merchant who has no friends and is desperate for the kind of friendship she sees through Chaya and Neel’s bond. I loved the interplay of the relationship between Chaya and Nour which gave an insight into the character of both girls.
This is a truly wonderful, action-packed adventure with incredibly engaging characters set in a vivid and beautiful landscape which captured me from the opening lines and kept me gripped until the very last page! A perfect read for children of 8+ who love an action-packed adventure with heart!