A small child plays hide-and-seek with a surprisingly elusive (except to viewers) elephant.
“OK. You hide,” says the child. Says the elephant: “I must warn you though. I’m VERY good.” The dark-skinned, springy-haired, and increasingly confused-looking child fruitlessly searches house and yard for the pachyderm—who positively dominates each scene whether “hiding” beneath curtains, under a coverlet on top of the bed, or behind a skinny tree. Applying thin color to rough-surfaced paper with splashy, Chris Raschka–style freedom, Barrow supplies the questing child with parents (a biracial couple, to judge from family portraits on the wall), legibly hand-lettered dialogue, and a small dog who has no trouble at all seeing the elephant. A tap on the shoulder brings the game to an end at last, whereupon a tortoise’s invitation to a round of tag presents an easier challenge. Or does it? “I must warn you though….” Beyond the sheer absurdity, children will delight in details, such as the wide-screen TV the elephant holds in one scene, the child’s dad so focused on the soccer game on the screen that he asks, “What elephant?” and the sly alterations to the family portraits on the rear endpapers.
Younger audiences will be screaming “There it is!” from the get-go. (Picture book. 3-5)