Middle Grade Reviews

Waiting On Wednesday: The Great Animal Escapade by Jane Kerr

The Great Animal EscapeSynopsis (from Chicken House Books): 

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?


Why I can’t wait to read The Great Animal Escapade:

  • Hurrah! A sequel to The Great Elephant Thief, which follows orphan Danny’s progress as he rides an elephant from Edinburgh to Manchester in a bid to escape trouble and help a zoo-owner keep his fortune. The Elephant Thief was one of those books which is just a bloomin’ good story. It kept me reading from start to finish and the plot stayed in my head in such a way that I think about it at random moments. I would read another book by Jane Kerr in a second. 


  • The 1800s entertainment industry provides a rich setting for story. Maybe it is the same attraction as steam-punk – there is enough innovation to be interesting, and enough left undiscovered (such as forensic science, the internet and mobile technology,) to keep the story interesting. It is also a fertile ground for interesting characters. Many people whose didn’t fit into conventional roles found their homes in the entertainment industry. Their stories have proved pouplar in reccent years as we’ve become more aware of all the voices waiting to be heard. 


  • I love books set in a specific geographical location, especially historical books which show us what a town or region meant at a different time.


  • The bond between Danny and Maharajah the elephant was special. Although I don’t support animals in modern zoos, it was lovely to read about a boy from the streets of 1800s Edinburgh bonding with an animal. Contact and respect for other species can change our lives and Danny instinctively understood that Maharajah could communicate with him too. 



The Great Animal Escapade by Jane Kerr

Chicken House Books

March 2019

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