Animal Rescue: Elephant Alert by Jackie French

It’s a tough old world when even your guinea pig thinks you’re boring.

It was hot in Leo’s backyard, even in the shade by the guinea pig cage. Alan Nesbit Kirk wrinkled his pink nose. ‘Were there screams and clashing swords?’

‘No,’ said Leo. ‘Not in maths class.’

‘Not even any fire-breathing dragons?’

Leo sighed. He didn’t want to think about school on a Sunday afternoon.


Alan Nesbit Kirk gave the whisker twitch that meant, ‘Nothing interesting ever happens to you.’

It’s a tough old world when even your guinea pig thinks you’re boring. But that’s Leo’s lot. He doesn’t really fit in at school. He’s not that interested in football, loves reading and can speak animal. Speak animal? Yes, animal. He knows what animals are saying and can respond. Not exactly the sort of skill that’s going to win points in the playground. But suddenly, classmate-who-hardly-speaks-to-anyone Mozz sends a skateboard riding robot gorilla to invite him over to her house. Suddenly life is about to get much more interesting. Not safe, not dull and boring, quite scary really, but interesting. She needs his help to help rescue some elephants from the threat of a tsunami.

Jackie French takes animal rescue to a completely new place, with superfast jet travel, animal-talking and an apparently robotic gorilla. ‘Elephant Rescue’ is a wild romp across the world, with little time for any anxieties of a reluctant hero. Because although Leo gets involved in this adventure, and although he acknowledges it had to be done, he’s far from convinced he really wanted to be there. There are themes of conservation, and doing the right thing even if you’re not feeling all that brave. There is comedy in every character, from Leo’s food obsessed mother, to Mozz’s brilliant and eccentric inventor grandmother. An absolute hoot! Recommended for confident independent readers, or perfect as a read-to.

Elephant Alert (Animal Rescue)

Elephant Alert, Jackie French Scholastic Press 2012 ISBN: 9781741698480


review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

Animal Rescue: Gorilla Grab by Jackie French

Leo can talk to animals. It’s a skill that’s could win friends at school, if no anyone believed you. But no one does.

‘Hshh-shoo!’ sneezed Mum. She stopped by the guinea pig cage and blew her nose.

Leo looked up at her. His guinea pig looked up too, a shred of lettuce wedged between his teeth. Alan Nesbit Kirk twitched his whiskers. ‘Is hshh-shoo! the sound humans make when they are about to attack zombies, with swords?’

‘No,’ Leo signalled, hoping Mum didn’t wonder why he was twitching his nose at his guinea pig. ‘Mum doesn’t do swords. She just has a cold.’

‘Does she karate chop them instead?’ the guinea pig asked.

Leo can talk to animals. It’s a skill that’s could win friends at school, if no anyone believed you. But no one does. Except Mozz and her grandmother. In his first jet-flight adventure, he and sort-of-friend Mozz helped rescue some elephants. This time, gorillas are in danger from man diseases and Mozz and Leo are going to vaccinate them. In their quest to vaccinate all the gorillas, they encounter more than they expect. They are in a race to outrun poachers, and then there’s the dilemma of what to do with a sick baby gorilla. Leo isn’t convinced that he should be anywhere near Africa or enormous gorillas but Mozz makes it difficult for him to refuse to help.

‘Animal Rescue: Gorilla Grab’ is the second in Jackie French’s new series of chapter books. It blends real life animal conservation issues with wayout inventions and talking animals. The action proceeds almost faster than Mozz’s jet. On one level, these are wild and whacky adventures, but there are also very clear conservation messages and themes about fitting in, finding your own specialness and surviving at school. Every main character in ‘Animal Rescue: Gorilla Grab’ has their own talent, their own wackiness. There is a warning at the back about the plight faced by the endangered Mountain Gorillas, and some factual information about them. Recommended for confident independent readers.

Gorilla Grab (Animal Rescue)

Gorilla Grab, Jackie French
Scholastic Press 2012
ISBN: 9781741698497

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author