The girl who stole an elephant

Nizrana Farook

Book - 2021

When Chaya steals first the queen's jewels, then the king's prized elephant, her prison escape leads her and her friends on an adventure through the jungle.

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Subjects
Genres
Action and adventure fiction
Published
Atlanta, Georgia : Peachtree Publishing Company Inc 2021.
Edition
First edition. First United States version
Language
English
Item Description
"First published in Great Britain in 2020 by Nosy Crow Ltd"--Title page verso.
"Middle reader fiction"--Page 4 of dust jacket.
Physical Description
230 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm
ISBN
1682632857
9781682632857
Main Author
Nizrana Farook (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Chaya's penchant to help the poor by stealing from the rich turns reckless when she pinches the queen's jewels and inadvertently implicates her best friend, Neel, who gallantly takes the fall. To rectify the situation, Chaya and rich newcomer Nour break him out of jail—escaping atop the king's elephant—before seeking refuge in a bountiful jungle to determine their next steps. Farook's debut is a perfect example of how to keep a novel action-packed while simultaneously developing characters and coloring the world. There's no denying our protagonist's fearlessness, and her morals are undoubtedly admirable, but Chaya's plucky wit and what appears to be jealousy toward Nour can come across as brash. Still, each character holds their own (Ananda the elephant included) as they explore the jungle and work together. Inspired by Farook's own early roots in Sri Lanka, the vibrant island-country setting is so lush you can practically picture the greenery and taste the tropical breadfruit. Though the conflict is tidied up a bit too simply, lovers of animals and adventure are in for an entertaining ride. Grades 3-6. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

Review by PW Annex Reviews

In the island kingdom of Serendib, 12-year-old Chaya—"medium-brown complexion, hair in a long plait"—is the daughter of the village headman, "a minor official of the King," and serves as her village's own Robin Hood, stealing from the rich to help the impoverished in her village of Nirissa. This time, she's managed to pull off her biggest heist yet: requisitioning the queen's jewels. But when her best friend Neel, 13, a carpenter's apprentice, is convicted of the robbery, confesses, and is sentenced to be executed within "about 20 hours," Chaya is desperate to rescue him. Soon, however, breaking Neel out of the palace's underground prison is the least of Chaya's crimes when she steals the King's prized elephant, Ananda, as their getaway vehicle. Accompanied by Nour, the daughter of a wealthy merchant "from the land of deserts," the friends ride Ananda into the jungle, with the king's guards in hot pursuit. Filled with lush descriptions of the South Asia–inspired landscape and delicious food, debut author Farook weaves a fast-paced, if at times tonally uneven, adventure against a backdrop of political upheaval. Ages 8–12. (Mar.) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly Annex.

Review by PW Annex Reviews

In the island kingdom of Serendib, 12-year-old Chaya—"medium-brown complexion, hair in a long plait"—is the daughter of the village headman, "a minor official of the King," and serves as her village's own Robin Hood, stealing from the rich to help the impoverished in her village of Nirissa. This time, she's managed to pull off her biggest heist yet: requisitioning the queen's jewels. But when her best friend Neel, 13, a carpenter's apprentice, is convicted of the robbery, confesses, and is sentenced to be executed within "about 20 hours," Chaya is desperate to rescue him. Soon, however, breaking Neel out of the palace's underground prison is the least of Chaya's crimes when she steals the King's prized elephant, Ananda, as their getaway vehicle. Accompanied by Nour, the daughter of a wealthy merchant "from the land of deserts," the friends ride Ananda into the jungle, with the king's guards in hot pursuit. Filled with lush descriptions of the South Asia–inspired landscape and delicious food, debut author Farook weaves a fast-paced, if at times tonally uneven, adventure against a backdrop of political upheaval. Ages 8–12. (Mar.) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly Annex.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 4–6—Being chased through a jungle by the King's guards is just one of the dangers facing Chaya, the 12-year-old Sri Lankan heroine of Farook's fast-paced and exhilarating novel. After stealing the Queen's jewels (in a Robin Hood scheme) and the King's royal elephant, Chaya escapes into the jungle with her two friends Neel and Nour. She is a brave and spirited girl who will stop at nothing to save her friends and her village from the King, who cares more for his own riches than his villagers. Along the way, Chaya frees Neel from the palace prison, confronts leeches, teaches Nour to survive in the jungle, and stays one step ahead, physically and mentally, from her pursuers. One of the many delights of this novel is the sparkling description of Chaya's rural Sri Lankan village, including the many references to colorful fruits and trees. More rewarding is Chaya's growth. While her intent is honorable, her theft jeopardizes the lives of her friends and family, but over the course of her journey, and with the support of strong secondary characters Neel and Nour, she develops more empathy. VERDICT A rich and joyful adventure story for those who enjoy daring escapades in a fairy-tale setting.—Shelley Sommer, Inly School, Scituate, MA Copyright 2021 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Becoming a secret Robin Hood to her impoverished community, a nobleman’s outspoken daughter endures a series of near misses before her reputation as both a hero and thief challenge the realities and perspectives of her followers.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Inspired by the lush terrain of Sri Lanka, this fun tale of friendship, risk, and reward is just right for middle grade fans of fantasy and page-turning adventure.Chaya, a nobleman's rebellious, outspoken, no-nonsense daughter, just can't resist the shiny temptations the king's palace has to offer.But playing Robin Hood for an impoverished community doesn't come without risks, and when Chaya steals the queen's jewels from a bedside table—a messy getaway jeopardizes the life of a close friend. After an equally haphazard prison break, Chaya barely escapes...on the king's prized elephant!With leeches and revolution lurking in the jungle, Chaya leads her companions on a daring escapade. But after leaving her village as a thief, can she return as a hero? Or will Chaya's sticky fingers be the beginning—or the end—of everything for this ragtag gang of getaways?