blog tour · Middle Grade Reviews

Blog Tour: The Great Animal Escapade by Jane Kerr

Blog Tour: The Great Animal Escapade by Jane Kerr

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Extract:

Mr Jameson sounded like a man worried about his business. About the money he would lose if anything went wrong. 

(The Great Animal Escapade by Jane Kerr. P42). 

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Synopsis:

Danny has settled into his new home at Belle Vue Zoo and he loves working with the animals and living with the Jamesons. Not everybody is so impressed with the zoo. The Reverend Eustace Threlfall campaigns for the zoo’s closure, and when the animals start escaping, it only gives credibility to his campaign. Danny discovers that the locks have been broken on purpose and he comes under suspicion himself as the boy who once lived on the streets.

Meanwhile, Danny’s father has returned and the news reaches the park that gang leader Frank Scatcherd has broken out of prison.

Can Danny untangle the mystery of the animal escapade, or is it time to move on from Belle Vue and the people he thought were his friends?

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Review:

Jane Kerr’s debut in 2017, The Elephant Thief, remains one of my favourite books which have reviewed for BookMurmuration. (It was also one of the earliest and published before I moved to WordPress). I was delighted to hear about the sequel and had high expectations. I am delighted to say the second book lived up to the first.

Danny may have settled into his new home, but his past as an orphan on the streets of Edinburgh hangs over him like a shadow. He has lived with the Jamesons but they have never officially adopted him and suspicion still falls on Danny faster than it does on other people. Added to that is the uncertainty about his past. Who his parents are and where he belongs. This informs his character and the question set up in the early part of the story is whether Danny belongs at Belle Vue.

As in the first book, we desperately want things to work out for Danny. His heart is in the right place. He cares for the animals in the park. In the first book, we were firmly on the side of Belle Vue over its cruel competitor, but this book acknowledges that even the best entertainment parks still paved the way for animals to be brought to the UK away from their natural habitats and treated as a source of entertainment. Danny sees beyond that, caring for the animal’s needs and seeing through to their different personalities. He is also a great friend to Hetty, who is having difficulties of her own.

With the Reverend outside the walls of park stirring up distrust and fear and the man who introduces himself as Danny’s father first creeping around at night, there is a dark tone to the mystery. As in book one, we don’t get a handle on everyone’s motives straight away and that makes the outcome more satisfying.

This could be read as a standalone – you don’t need to understand anything more than that Danny came to the park after life on the streets where a gang ruled – but I would recommend reading book one first. Aside from anything else, that is double the adventure but it also shows how Danny came to bond with Maharajah and Hetty.

A lovely return to a favourite fictional world and an insightful look at the zoos and entertainment scene of the 1800s.

 

The Great Animal Escapade by Jane Kerr is available now from Chicken House Books (Paperback, £6.99).

Thanks to Laura Smythe PR and Chicken House Books for my gifted copy. Opinions my own.

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?

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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