Sunday 19 January 2014

Elephant Jam

Elephant Jam by Sam Jasper (Palmer Higgs)
PB RRP $19.95
ISBN – 978-192502778-5
Reviewed by Emma Cameron

Eleven-year-old twins Demi and Semmy, whose grandparents and great-grandmother live with them, miss their parents who have been travelling the world for the past year in search of the original beat. When the twins become haunted by a different yet familiar sound, as well as strange dreams, they have a mystery to solve.

Demi’s brother asks his school mates at the Con, who belong to a band named the Elephants, to help track down what the sound is. At the same time, Demi finds the new girl Pixie, who she’s been paired up with to practice a music duet, very annoying. Pixie believes “Everything is my business” and Demi doesn’t want her to know anything about the noise she hears, or her dreams.

As the mystery unfolds, readers are treated to many mini-lessons about music, instruments, artists, science, animals, gardening and food. Descriptions give readers a clear picture of each scene, including in-depth details about what is on the menu each meal. The cast of quirky characters all add their own flavor to the story. Grandma even chooses musical backdrops to accompany dinner!

The author has used omniscient viewpoint and, to ensure readers can follow what each character is thinking, placed their thoughts in italics. I think young readers may well enjoy this. They are also likely to take pleasure in the varied use of adverbs and adjectives which align with what they are learning in school, as well as the occasional puns that appear in the text.

Solving the mystery sees Demi and Semmy having to harness all their bravery. They are also fortunate to have a caring great-grandmother who helps them along the way, ensuring their safety. The story reaches a wonderful climax that sees all issues that arise along the way being solved, including Mum and Dad being drawn back home as they are lured by the original beat. I won’t tell you what that is, as that would spoil it for you, but they should have known that what they were searching for was at home all along!

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