By Megan Northcote
Kick off your summer reading with a fast-paced adventure story set in the jungles of South Asia and the kingdom of Serendib in Nizaran Farook's The Girl Who Stole An Elephant!
Chaya, the 12-year-old daughter of the village headman, sneaks into the king’s royal palace and steals the queen’s jewels. At first, being chased out by guards and climbing a tree to safety seems worth it. After all, this isn’t the first time Chaya has stolen from the rich to help the poor in her village.
But when her best friend Neel, a carpenter’s apprentice, hears of her reckless thievery, he convinces her to hide the jewels inside a hand-carved box. With the valuables safely tucked away, it seems Chaya and Neel have nothing to worry about--until an unexpected chain of events results in Neel being convicted of robbery instead!
Filled with guilt, Chaya is determined to do whatever it takes to right her wrong and save her friend. Desperate for a quick getaway, Chaya steals the king’s elephant, Ananda; breaks Neel out of prison; and takes him and another young accomplice, Nour, into hiding deep in the jungle. Will Chaya’s conniving plan be enough to outsmart the authorities and set the story straight?
Short chapters, likeable characters, and an action-packed plot make this Sri Lankan author’s debut novel a quick, exciting read for 3rd-5th graders. Readers will also gain a deeper appreciation for and knowledge of the unique flora and fauna in the jungles of South Asia.