Saving Thandi by Kate S Richards
A furious storm, a clumsy gun-wielding monkey, a charging rhino, rogue waves and foolish courage will need to combine if Jabu and friends are to pull off a daring rhino rescue, an incredible kidnapping escape and save an animal orphanage from an impending shutdown.
If they fail, more rhinos will be slaughtered for their horns, Alexia and Billie will be taken away on the Jewel of the Sea, and the organised crime network will be victorious.
Saving Thandi is the sequel to author Kate S Richards’s Trainsurfer. The newest book features characters and storylines from its predecessor.
Readers of the first book will be given an insight into what happened to Ice, as well as finding out the answers to some lingering questions from Trainsurfer. However, Saving Thandi can absolutely be read as a stand-alone.
It features Richards’s trademark blend of adventure, mystery and actions, but this time has conservation at its heart. She doesn’t shy away from the brutal reality of poaching, but somehow also doesn’t make it too graphic as to frighten or terrify younger readers. The first book was conceived as a screenplay, so it was full of action and perfectly paced. Saving Thandi continues that high-bar, with the story gripping you in from the very first chapter.
At times the plot twists away and it can be hard to ascertain exactly what the new storyline has to do with saving the rhinos. But, Richards weaves all the threads together in a neat and tidy way at the end of the book.
Her characters are well-written and realistic too. While Jabu is the main character again, Ice also takes to the stage. It was nice to see realistic relationships played out in the pages too – there are moments of doubt, personality clashes and great depth to the emotions displayed by the teenagers especially.
Richards is a school librarian in Auckland and it is clear her passion and experience of working with children informs her writing. The book is funny, insightful, heart-wrenching, and educational all in one.
Together, the two books form the series called ‘The Adventures of Jabu and Friends’. While the first two books are set in Richards’s home of South Africa, she is currently in the process of writing the third book in the series – which is set in her current home, New Zealand. I look forward to seeing where the story goes next.
Saving Thandi is a wonderful adventure story that ticks all the boxes for our middle-grade readers and up.
Reviewer: Rebekah Fraser
Green Room House, RRP $20.