Thursday, 21 March 2019

The Great Animal Escapade by Jane Kerr

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Publisher: Chicken House Books
Released: 7th March 2019 
Other Books in the Series: The Elephant Thief (though this book can stand alone) 

Danny works at Belle Vue Zoo, where – alongside training the famous elephant Maharajah – he helps out with the day-to-day tasks of caring for the animals. But when animals start escaping, Danny is the prime suspect: after all, he was a former street urchin and pickpocket. When a man turns up claiming to be his father, the plot thickens. Can Danny untangle the mystery of the animal escapade – and find out where he really belongs – in order to clear his name?

With themes of prejudice, identity and belonging, this new adventure will thrill young readers as they follow Danny on his next adventure set within the walls of Belle Vue Zoo in the late 1900s.

What I Have to Say 

This book has everything. Elephants, villains, diversity, runaway emus, fireworks, danger and mystery. It creates a great world inside Belle Vue with a wonderful cast of characters both human and animal! 

Though it glossed over the harsh conditions that many zoos at the time kept their animals in, it addressed some of the debates over zoo and other animal parks both within the story and in an author's note at the end of the book. I liked to see how Kerr balanced this line between hiding the unpleasantaries of the time period and showing her version of Belle Vue as being on the forefront of animal rights. Showing animals like Emerald, who are the last of their kind being protected in the zoo and their policy of looking after the animals and setting up education about the animal world was a great way to introduce these things to kids without plunging them into the horrific sides that the issue has shown in both the old Victorian zoos and the modern day animal parks. 

I liked the personal struggles between Danny and his family as well. It showed a lot of the tension that can come between children and their adopted families, especially when, in Danny's case, there was the fact that his father was using him (in the guise of the Indian Prince Dandip a character created to help publicise the zoo), to help his enterprise along. I felt they dealt with it very well, showing Danny's feelings on the issues quite clearly and touchingly. 

This was a great story and a really good mystery. I loved everything about it and it made me really want to go back and read the Elephant Thief! 


My thanks got to Chicken House for providing me with this free copy for review. 

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