Book Review: JUNGLEDROP by Abi Elphinstone (Middle Grade Monday)

Title in wonky green letters on blue below two chilren on a tightrope attacked by monkeys
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: MG
Star Rating:
Series: yes - companion books


Book cover for JUNGLEDROP: title in gold on blue surrounded by a lush forest

Eleven-year-old twins, Fox and Fibber, have been rivals for as long as they can remember. Only one of them will inherit the family fortune and so a race is afoot to save the dwindling Petty-Squabble empire and win the love of their parents.

But when the twins are whisked off to Jungledrop, a magical Unmapped Kingdom in charge of conjuring our world’s weather, things get wildly out of hand. An evil harpy called Morg is on the loose. And if she finds the long-lost Forever Fern before the twins, both Jungledrop and our world will crumble.

Suddenly, Fox and Fibber find themselves on an incredible adventure in a glow-in-the-dark rainforest full of golden panthers, gobblequick trees and enchanted temples. But, with the fate of two worlds in their hands, will the twins be able to work together for once to defeat Morg and her dark magic?

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


I raced through this book, which was such a nice surprise as my last read had taken days (partly because it was a high concept book, and partly because I was reading that book while the US election was being counted.) A quick, delightful Middle Grade adventure was exactly the cleanser I needed to pick me up.

There’s a very Roald Dahl slant to this book that I wasn’t expecting – and don’t seem to remember from the first book. The characterisation of the Petty-Squabbles is very exaggerated – it reminded me of both the naming and caricature nature of cruel, selfish people that figure in his books. It makes the moralising lesson in this book much more obvious than it often is in MG – be kind to people.

I am very aware that I am NOT the target market for this book, and that it is probably written for the lower end of Middle Grade (it felt “younger” than a lot of the other Middle Grade I read.) As such, I did find the moralising a bit too in your face, but that’s because I’m about three times older than the target market. Target market is certainly something we have to read with awareness of because otherwise we end up making judgements on a book that wasn’t designed for us!

This said, the Roald Dahl feel certainly brought on a wave of nostalgia, and also a slight comedic feel to the bright, bold adventure. It’s such a colourful story, full of vibrant characters and action-packed sequences.

The prose is largely keeping in a tight third person POV centred on Fox. However, the end of chapters often zoomed out to a more omniscient narration that referred to other events and adding a sense of foreboding as it would refer to the villainous Morg, for example. It works for the type of story, and does contribute a bit to the younger age of the book, as it’s not a particularly subtle attempt at foreshadowing or tension building. That’s nothing bad – I’m just reading in a very analytical mode today!

JUNGLEDROP is part of the same series as RUMBLESTAR but it’s not a “direct sequel” because it’s set many, many years after the events of that book, and Caspar is only a cameo (and I am now assuming that a certain character in RUMBLESTAR was a cameo of the leads from EVERDARK.) It took me a bit by surprise that so much time had passed between the two books (particularly as this series is a metaphor for climate change and yet our world didn’t seem too much different despite the decades difference) but it was a very minor thing I could ignore and just get on with enjoying the story.

I’m looking forwards to the wide-spread publication of EVERDARK in January (the world day prequel now getting a more normal publication) and the next instalment in the series in May 2021.

Read my reviews of other books by Abi Elphinstone:

The Unmapped Chronicles (this series):

The Dreamsnatcher:


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