First published in Italy 40 years ago, this picture book challenges sexism with a story about an anthropomorphic elephant who subverts her community’s notions about what girls should look like and how they should behave.
The titular phrase “candy pink” refers to the skin color of female elephants in this story, which comes from their diet of flowers. A metaphorical introduction of socially constructed gender norms finds boy elephants allowed to roam free and eat what they choose, while girls remain in a fenced garden. Daisy is “slightly different from the other girl elephants,” and even though she eats “peonies and anemones” like the other girls, her skin remains gray. This greatly displeases her parents, and it also pokes holes in constructivist ideology—why don’t social pressures and norms affect her the same way they do others? Is there some essential difference in her? Ultimately, Daisy’s parents give up and abandon her to her own devices. She sheds her pink, girly clothing and runs free, eating and doing as she wishes. The other girls are initially “frightened…worried…[and] bewildered,” but then they become jealous and leave the enclosure. Curiously, there are no ramifications for this subversive behavior, and, liberated, they all turn gray. Cartoonish illustrations are largely redundant of the message-driven text, though other animals appear as observers to the elephants’ story.
A simplistic, well-meaning tale. (Picture book. 4-7)