Book review: How Kirsty Stole the Elephant by Elen Caldecott
How Kirsty Jenkins Stole the Elephant by Elen Caldecott (Bloomsbury, £5.99). Reviewed by Jayne Howarth
There are occasions when a writer is able to address really big issues, but do it so subtly that it isn’t signposted in neon lights, but offers obvious lessons.
Such is the case with Elen Caldecott, who manages to weave bereavement and depression into a story that exudes warmth, humour and child-like adventures.
Young Kirsty Jenkins is the apple of her grandfather’s eye and she adores him. But when he is taken ill and deteriorates rapidly, she makes a promise to him on his deathbed: that she will continue to look after his precious allotment.
Just a week after the funeral, she is devastated to learn that the council will not allow her to keep the plot. Angry and determined, she manages to persuade her half brother and sister to hatch a plan that will ensure she will be able to keep her promise.
In between the bonkers scheming to attract the attention of Mr Thomas, the council officer in charge of allotments, the sibling arguments and the grieving for their grandfather, the children have to contend with their father’s increasingly deteriorating state of mind.
The death of his father has hit him hard. He barely acknowledges them and hardly leaves his room. But, the children, in equal measure of desperation and concern, believe their ingenious plan will return him to rude health?
Caldecott captures the naivety of youth perfectly, portrays the straining of family relationships well and while the plan to keep the allotment might seem far-fetched, it is great fun and hints at just how resourceful children can be.
It is a touching and individual tale, but what does the elephant have to do with it? Read it and discover it for yourself.