An elephant with a terrible itch on its back seeks help from fellow animals, but when relief is finally achieved, gratitude is the last thing on its mind.
Scratching an itch that can’t be reached is frustrating. Enlisting the right help is even more annoying for this obnoxious pachyderm. Mr. Crocodile is more than willing, but his sharp teeth (and grin) dissuade the elephant. Mr. Snail only creates a slimy feeling down Elephant’s back. As the itch grows worse, the elephant becomes increasingly upset and even rude to several more creatures willing to try, leaving the itchy beast in tears and somewhat despondent. “Oh, I have an itch on my back and it will never be scratched. I just don’t know what to do.” Then a sympathetic hedgehog appears: “Perhaps I can help. I’m quite pokey.” Scooping the hedgehog up with its trunk and placing the spiny critter in just the right spot brings the desired relief. But the boorish elephant then forcefully flings the little guy into the air—“Off you go!”—selfishly proclaiming, “Finally! Somebody who was actually helpful!” The poor helpless hedgehog is now stuck upside down with an itch of its own and, in a reprise of an earlier joke, must wait for Mr. Sloth to slowly make his way over. While taken separately each individual encounter is quite funny, the intended amusement in the dialogue-driven story is marred by the elephant’s concluding, churlish behavior, rendering the endearingly cute, delicately outlined cartoon illustrations inapt.
Just plain mean-spirited. (Picture book. 3-5)