On the African plains a little elephant struggles with the prospect of missing his mother as she prepares to “climb the highest mountain to ask the skies for rain.”
Mama elephant must go because their land is experiencing drought. Typically Mama and Little One sing their calling song—depicted visually as a colorful stream of fine dots—to meet, but this trip will be long and the baby does not want his mother to go. Little One questions: “What if I can’t hear you, Mama?” “How will I know you still love me?” “How will you find me again?” Each time Mama responds with gentle reassurances related to the wind, sun and stars. When Mama leaves, a trio of giraffes and a zebra couple come closer to comfort Little One. Time passes, and the small elephant despairs. But she remembers what her mother said and sings her calling song “deep into the night.” Their touching reunion shows Mama encircling her baby with her trunk, a shape that is repeated in the great white moon behind them. Marino impresses with her lyrical language, conveying it in a perfect tone to allay young readers’ feelings of separation anxiety. The textured mixed-media art paired with the flowing text elevates this title above most missing-mama fare. The full-bleed double-page spreads evoke the vastness of the plains and the night sky, while the finely detailed striping of the zebras and the intricate branches of the trees produce a striking contrast with the huge circles of the sun or moon that dominate most scenes.
Radiating warmth and comfort, this distinguished title strikes home. (Picture book. 2-5)