cover image The Girl Who Stole an Elephant

The Girl Who Stole an Elephant

Nizrana Farook. Peachtree, $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-68263-285-7

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. [em](Mar.) [/em]