This almost-wordless picture book uses a familiar format to teach about deforestation and habitat loss.
Upon opening the book, viewers are swept into a vast expanse of blue brush stroke, with a small cluster of colorful treetops at the far right. The following double-page spread asks the titular question: “Where’s the elephant?” A riot of brightly colored trees of many shapes and sizes—some seemingly constructed from elegant wallpaper—barely expose the trunk, head, and ear of a simply drawn, friendly-looking elephant. Over the next double-page spread, the final words of the entire book invite readers to find the elephant, the parrot, and the snake, showing each animal’s shape and color for later searching. Now comes the amazing cleverness: with each successive double-page spread, the animals grow easier to find, as more and more trees are chopped down to stumps—and more and more little houses, then roadways, then large buildings, are built. The three animals eventually teeter behind one tree before being temporarily confined in an urban zoo. Rather than leave young readers in an existential lurch, the conclusion is both comforting and unrealistic—an excellent way to span different, age-appropriate conversations. The youngest will search for the animals and be satisfied by the naïve ending; older readers will have a springboard for a serious discussion.
Unique. (Picture book. 2-7)