There were definitely tears shed when I read this story, but they weren’t just tears of sadness. They were tears of hope, nostalgia and understanding. And don’t even get me started on the wonderful kapow! to the heart the second-last chapter provided (#NoSpoilers). But above all, ‘The Elephant‘ is a great insight into how a young girl deals with issues of depression and grief that have impacted her family.
Olive’s dad has been feeling sad for so long that she has begun to imagine his sorrow is in the shape of an elephant. The big, foreboding creature lumbers behind her father and shows no sign of moving on. One day Olive decides she needs to get rid of her dad’s elephant and enlists the help of her Grandad and her best friend, Arthur. But igniting happiness in her dad again and chasing away the elephant may be harder than Olive thought.
From the premise it’s clear that Olive has a special connection with her father, but the story that captured my heart just as much was the connection between Olive and her Grandad.
Confession: I actually loved about a million things in Jaclyn’s middle grade novel but, much like bears, musketeers and singing brothers in Hanson, good things come in threes.
The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone is about a ten-year-old girl who is sent on a solo adventure, via the instructions in her parents’ will, to deliver gifts to her ten aunts. She faces many obstacles along the way, including pirates, police and magical creatures, but if she doesn’t follow her parents’ precise orders, terrible events will occur.
Bronte was already my hero from this description alone, because I’m pretty sure the biggest adventure I ever went on as a ten-year-old was taking the shortcut through the cemetery near our house to get to the shops (the promise of an ice-cream won out over ghost possession). But this leads into my first thing I loved about the book: Bronte is a fabulous main character.
My love of reading definitely originated from snooping through people’s mail.
Back when I was a kid, one of the most sought after books at the school library was Janet & Allan Ahlberg’s The Jolly Postman. The story was about following the postman’s route as he delivered letters to different residents, but you could also open the mail yourself and have a sticky-beak.
I was in my element.
Come to think of it, I also loved reading people’s diaries (shout out to Penny Pollard and Adrian Mole), so maybe I’ve missed my true calling in life to become a private investigator – or a 90-year-old named Maude who loves to sit by her front window and knit and knows way too much about the comings and goings of her neighbours.
There were also other books I was thoroughly obsessed with like The Baby-Sitters Club, Sweet Valley High, Goosebumps, Fear Street, most Enid Blyton series (I wanted to visit each and every land in The Magic Faraway Tree), all the Paul Jennings short story books and the Choose Your Own Adventure novels (which have recently been re-released in the shops, much to my nostalgia-infested brain’s excitement).
It was through this love of reading, though, that I realised I want to write a middle grade/young adult book of my own one day. I want to introduce readers to new fictional worlds with intriguing characters and memorable adventures. I want people to have that same sense of delight and wonder I did (and still have!), whenever I picked up a new book. Even if it was just to read about the latest fashion ensemble Claudia Kishi had put together, because you know that was one of the best things about The BSC.
So I’m slowly making my way there. One of my main goals this year was to get my MG manuscript out into the world. I’ll also be attempting to write a first draft for another MG manuscript I have in mind. Because if nothing else, I am amazing at procrastinating so I need to keep the writing vibes flowing if I want to accomplish anything further!
I mean, I’m also pretty good at snooping through fictional people’s mail too, but I might just leave that to past me for now.