Chaos ensues when wakeful Fred decides to count elephants to try to go to sleep.
When his mother tells him to try counting sheep at bedtime, Fred, who, like his mom, has pale skin and brown hair, rejects this idea as “boring.” Rhyming text and humorous, action-packed illustrations soon reveal the perils of his choice to instead count elephants. Bright illustrations with subtly textured colors depict the increasing crowd of pachyderms wreaking havoc in the boy’s bedroom and then creating more chaos in the bathroom, kitchen, and throughout the house. In fact, Fred can’t keep up with counting them and can only race around, helplessly bearing witness to their antics and destruction. Neither his mother nor anyone else appears to help, and finally Fred fools the massive herd of elephants into leaving: “ ‘Pack your trunks, be quick,’ he said. ‘Look, over there—a mouse!’ / The elephants skedaddled. They weren’t staying in this house!” (While Crowe’s premise is amiable enough, her rhyming verse is rather labored.) Triumphant, a sleepy Fred heads to bed and resolves to count sheep from now on. The closing illustration, however, shows a lingering elephant at the window and a flock of sheep in the distance who don’t seem to be much less exuberant than the departed elephantine crowd was.
A playful if stumbling addition to the bedtime-book shelf. (Picture book. 2-4)