Little Dana needs big lessons in kindness more than any birthday present—unless a present can teach her something, that is.
She starts her special day wearing her favorite dress and eating her favorite breakfast, and then, because it’s her birthday “and she could do whatever she liked,” she teases a boy named Anthony. She calls him “ickaborse” and pinches him, and she eats his dessert after her own at school. She later receives many gifts at her party, but none compares with the present Anthony brings after her guests depart: “a big white elephant.” Dana is overwhelmed by the gift’s specialness and is determined to prove her worthiness of the creature, since, as she tells other children, “Not everyone deserves an elephant.” Her dogged efforts result in exhaustion, and with it, Dana becomes a target for another mean girl’s teasing. When audible hunger pangs plague her after she gives up her breakfast to the voracious elephant, for example, “Gertrude called her Grumble-Guts on the bus.” The chagrined Dana talks with Anthony, who generously reminds her about Gertrude’s coming birthday party, and it seems she’s found another birthday girl who deserves an elephant. Throughout, Schneider’s multimedia illustrations employ the same humorous, expressive line seen in his Geisel Award–winning Tales for Very Picky Eaters (2011), delivering a remarkable package.
A gift of a book for new readers. (Early reader. 6-9)