Who or what is eating the best fruits in Jasmine’s garden?
The whole village knows Jasmine grows the best fruit—apples, cherries, kumquats, mangoes, papayas, and more—but every morning she awakens to find the nicest fruits nibbled. She hides one night and sees an elephant fall from the sky to crash in her garden and start eating her fruit. She tells him to stop, and he apologizes. In an abrupt transition, she grabs his tail, and they sail into the night sky into his garden, where the fruits are huge…but made of precious gems and thus not good to eat. He gives Jasmine a giant ruby strawberry. When she gets home, she tells her family of her adventure. Naturally, they all want to see the garden. She agrees and swears them to secrecy…but her little brother tells his friend, and soon the whole village knows. When the elephant falls that night, they all latch onto his tail in a chain—but alas, their impatience ends with everyone falling back to Earth. At least they still get to eat Jasmine’s fruit, while the elephant evidently moves on to quieter gardens. British author/illustrator Ray’s original tale seems to be set in South Asia. Her bright and vibrant illustrations feature brown-skinned people in saris and turbans and a brilliantly painted elephant; they swoop across the page and transport readers as would, say, a flying elephant.
Readers who can get over the story’s peculiar device will find a fine tale about the importance of keeping secrets and the dangers of greed. (Picture book. 5-9)