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Reviewed by:
  • The Girl Who Stole an Elephant by Nizrana Farook
  • Fiona Hartley-Kroeger
Farook, Nizrana The Girl Who Stole an Elephant. Peachtree, 2021 [240p]
Trade ed. ISBN 9781682632857 $16.99
Reviewed from digital galleys R Gr. 4–6

When Chaya, the daughter of her village’s headman, steals the queen’s jewels to help a village boy pay for medical expenses, her best friend, woodworker’s apprentice Neelan, is blamed and condemned to death. With the dubious assistance of merchant’s daughter Nour, Chaya engineers a jailbreak, hijacks the king’s own elephant as a getaway vehicle, and instigates a three-person-one-elephant flight through the jungle with the cruel king’s guards in hot pursuit. Amid jungle perils (don’t try to outrun a leopard; if you’re covered in leeches, don’t try to pull them off; watch out for bandits in league with the king’s exiled half sibling), faithful Neel is just trying to survive, while the three girls’ sparring evolves into friendship across religious and class differences. It’s a pretty straightforward story with a nonviolent happy ending for all (except the king and queen), and the setting of jungle island Serendib, a multicultural trade hub closely based on historical Sri Lanka, adds interest and will be useful for collections seeking to broaden #ownvoices South Asian representation. [End Page 295]



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