Sam (@SamJDThomas) –
I am delighted to have had the opportunity to read Kerry Gibb’s upcoming publication – due to be published on 23rd May – The Elephant Squad, and be able to share my review of this absolute must read release of 2022. It is also a title definitely worthy of children’s book recommendation lists for readers aged 8+. That is because The Elephant Squad gives readers an invaluable insight into life as a young carer, something that is far too rarely included in children’s books, and what I find truly brilliant about this particular book is that readers are given four different perspectives of growing up as a young carer through the main characters that we come to understand and admire more and more as their lives interlink and entwine, forming an empowering, emotive, and enlightening story.
The children – Cleo, Ethan, Jayden, and Tiegan – each have unique experiences as young carers, which allows for more readers to be able to relate their own experiences as carers to these incredible characters, and see representation of themselves within a text, which all children should be able to, and this is a book that could help readers to realise that they are in fact undertaking the same additional caring responsibilities as the children in the book, and can therefore access support services intended for their benefit, which is perhaps a realisation they had yet to make.
This is how Cleo, Ethan, Jayden, and Tiegan come to form The Elephant Squad, as they learn about what being a young carer involves through a visitor to their school giving them an assembly on Young Carers. Darryl, the visitor to the school, is as patient as he is passionate in talking about young carers, and is kind and respectful in his entire approach towards achieving his intentions at Summercroft School, and that is to bring together any young carers that attend their, and form a peer support group for them to benefit from. Darryl regularly checks in on the group, and makes necessary adjustments within the yurt the children meet in, all with the intention of benefiting the children, and reducing the worries they have whilst in school – such as enabling access to a phone for the children to be able to call home if they need to.
Empathy is something that you feel throughout, this book, in relation to the children, and what they undertake in their role as young carers, and also for the children’s adult loved ones. Cleo’s mum is wheelchair bound, Tiegan’s grandmother has dementia, and has moved into the family home, Ethan’s mum is a foster parent, and Jayden’s sibling requires extra care. Everyone I have just mentioned has additional responsibilities to balance with day to day life, and the impact of this is reflected throughout the story with worries and consequences being depicted.
The biggest thing to take away from The Elephant Squad is how caring, considerate, and selfless the young carers in the book are. The focus for all four children is always on ensuring their role as carer is a success, and they form a fantastic support system for each other in becoming the ‘squad’, and subsequently become friends and confidants, which is something they each lacked previously. Cleo, Ethan, Jayden, and Tiegan are such incredible role models for readers, and will undoubtedly inspire children to want to be kind and supportive to others too.
Today is my sons 13th birthday, he is a young carer too, and when I recently shared this book with him he was delighted to be able to recognise himself in the characters of The Elephant Squad, and agreed this book needs to be read in assemblies in primary school so that others in the same role are able to experience recognising themselves, whilst bringing awareness to what young carers do, and feel.
Helen (@helenbyles) –
Every so often a book comes along that makes you stop what you are doing and makes you think.
This is one such book, from the title the book could be about anything, then you read the back and think yep I’m going to want to read that.
The first chapter could have been about any child, the child who is always excluded from weekend and after school events, the sort of child who would sit and wish they could go, the child from the class who never got invited to parties.
But behind closed doors, this child lives a life that most of us couldn’t imagine.
I know children who live in situations described in chapter 2, the child who just wants to get on with stuff but can’t because their parents need help with younger children who have additional needs.
Both of these children are young carers and as we read the book, we learn more about their lives.
One such child is Cleo, she’s a carer to her mum, a mum in a wheelchair.
Cleo is stressed, and has a lot of pressure in her life. And she also has a lot of responsibility towards her mum.
Another child is Ethan, he’s a different sort of young carer, his mum is a Foster parent so of course to help his mum he helps with the young children, he also has a stressful life with pressure.
When Darryl comes into assembly he asks for children like Cleo and Ethan to meet with him. In time they form The Elephant Squad.
They set themselves a mission to find other children like them and to help them.
This is a story of friendship.
This book is very well written. This book makes you care for these characters and worry about what will happen Next. This book highlights the importance of young carers.
And it makes you realise that we don’t know what happens behind closed doors.
Be sure to check out the rest of The Elephant Squad twitter blog tour via the banner information below. The Elephant Squad is available to purchase from all good booksellers from 23rd May, with 50p from each sale being donated to The Honeypot Children’s Charity for Young Carers, which author Kerry Gibb has partnered with, in relation to this book, stating ‘I have a charity partnership with The Honeypot Children’s Charity for young carers as, after writing the book, I couldn’t ignore how much it could help a charity such as theirs. I am donating 50p to them for every copy of The Elephant Squad bought through my website or my school visits’.
When a safe arrives in the school yurt, the children must think up a code that only they can know! Follow The Elephant Squad blog tour to discover the code! Each blogger will release one number (ours are below!) and direct you to the next blog! Once you have the correct combination, email it to email@example.com to unlock your entry into a competition to win a signed copy of The Elephant Squad with a limited edition bookmark. Good luck!
Sam – 2
Helen – 0