by & illustrated by
Age Range: 4 - 8
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“Imagine a town, in a country, where a simple thing like an Elephant had never been seen, or even heard of . . .” Husband-and-wife collaborators Robinson and Windham do just that in this thoroughly modern tale steeped in Old World tradition. A mix between The Blind Men and the Elephant and The Boy Who Cried Wolf, the story centers on the attempts by the village innocents to name the animal. The elephant’s enormous size leads the Train Driver to believe he’s a railway engine; the Fireman mistakes the creature’s nose for a hose; and the Dustman declares him a vacuum cleaner. Rendered in dusky country hues, Windham’s humorous vignettes picture the possibilities. A sketch of the elephant inflated (“He is a modern type of refuse collecting machine) is especially amusing. Only Eric (“a little boy who was seven and three quarters and known locally for telling Tall Stories”) knows the truth. Trouble is, no one will listen. When the townspeople send the Elephant to be examined by the Professor, Eric goes along for the ride. Here, banners frame the page. One shows a scientific diagram of the elephant; Bunsen burners, beakers, and test tubes make up the other. Turns out, naming the elephant is a test for the professor too; it’s only with Eric’s help that he remembers the word. Robinson’s droll narrative—which draws on time-honored tales to create an altogether fresh text—is perfectly balanced by Windham’s whimsical illustrations. This one’s a good bet for read-aloud fun; older audiences will likely appreciate Robinson’s skillful yarn-spinning. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 1-58234-769-7
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2002


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