WHAT ELEPHANT?

Côté turns the common expression about “ignoring the elephant in the room” into an “Emperor’s New Clothes” sort of tale. A young gent named George unhappily goes about coping with the huge pachyderm that has appeared in his house because his neighbors think he’s deranged when he tries to tell them it’s there. Then, when they see it too, they keep quiet for fear of being thought loopy themselves. Wielding a black crayon with expressive fluency and adding thin washes of color, the author creates tongue-in-cheek scenes of the huge, rotund “guest” cheerily crushing furniture, flooding the house at bathtime and clearing out the kitchen cabinets, as George and his friends stand by with averted eyes. The part of the clear-eyed child in Andersen is played by the elephant’s keeper, who rushes in at last to lead it back to the circus. Have George and company learned their lesson? Not to judge from their “Who? Me?” reaction to the pink poodle that then strolls in, carrying a suitcase. Children not yet up to thinking in metaphors may need some explanation, but the theme is certainly worth exploring, as there are always “elephants” around. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-55337-875-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2006

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THE SNAIL AND THE WHALE

Like an ocean-going “Lion and the Mouse,” a humpback whale and a snail “with an itchy foot” help each other out in this cheery travelogue. Responding to a plaintive “Ride wanted around the world,” scrawled in slime on a coastal rock, whale picks up snail, then sails off to visit waters tropical and polar, stormy and serene before inadvertently beaching himself. Off hustles the snail, to spur a nearby community to action with another slimy message: “SAVE THE WHALE.” Donaldson’s rhyme, though not cumulative, sounds like “The house that Jack built”—“This is the tide coming into the bay, / And these are the villagers shouting, ‘HOORAY!’ / As the whale and the snail travel safely away. . . .” Looking in turn hopeful, delighted, anxious, awed, and determined, Scheffler’s snail, though tiny next to her gargantuan companion, steals the show in each picturesque seascape—and upon returning home, provides so enticing an account of her adventures that her fellow mollusks all climb on board the whale’s tail for a repeat voyage. Young readers will clamor to ride along. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-8037-2922-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2004

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DIARY OF A SPIDER

The wriggly narrator of Diary of a Worm (2003) puts in occasional appearances, but it’s his arachnid buddy who takes center stage here, with terse, tongue-in-cheek comments on his likes (his close friend Fly, Charlotte’s Web), his dislikes (vacuums, people with big feet), nervous encounters with a huge Daddy Longlegs, his extended family—which includes a Grandpa more than willing to share hard-won wisdom (The secret to a long, happy life: “Never fall asleep in a shoe.”)—and mishaps both at spider school and on the human playground. Bliss endows his garden-dwellers with faces and the odd hat or other accessory, and creates cozy webs or burrows colorfully decorated with corks, scraps, plastic toys and other human detritus. Spider closes with the notion that we could all get along, “just like me and Fly,” if we but got to know one another. Once again, brilliantly hilarious. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-000153-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Joanna Cotler/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2005

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