Will Ellie be able to relax in the bath?
In the opening spread, Ellie the elephant sits in water that fills the bottom half of both pages. Taking a cue from Hervé Tullet’s Press Here (2011), Teckentrup’s text invites readers to “shake the book from side to side, then turn the page to see what happens...”; the page turn reveals Ellie swimming through waves. She’s accompanied only by a rubber duck, and subsequent page turns show the water tilting to the left and right in response to the text’s prompts. But when Crocodile appears and Ellie is distressed, the text directs the reader to tell it to “get out.” The story’s pattern is broken when Crocodile remains on the next spread, and Flamingo joins the bath. The ensuing plot structure is reminiscent of stories like Jan Brett’s The Mitten (1989), but instead of an ending in which the crowding itself results in the water overflowing or some such resolution, Ellie takes the water into her trunk. The now-chilly animals leave, and once she’s alone, Ellie lets the water out of her trunk. An unfortunate closing line prompts the implied child readers to take baths too, thus imposing a prescriptive spirit on the otherwise playful text and appealing digital illustrations of the animal characters.
All in all, some good, clean reading fun. (Picture book. 2-4)