On a very hot day, an elephant wanders into a barn and has a nap. Excited to finally see an elephant up close, the farmer calls in his family, who call in neighbors to see the magnificent animal.
Six blind mice are roused from sleep by an unfamiliar scent, and they follow it until they catch scent of a cat. They hide, listening to the gathered humans marvel about this “elephant,” and when the people leave, they follow the scent again. As the mice each find a different part of the elephant, they all describe what they’ve felt as if it were the whole elephant. By now, the elephant is awake and explains that they’re all “a little bit right,” but they’ve each described parts of a whole elephant. It drifts off to sleep, and the mice tiptoe back home, squeaking about what they’ve learned. In a note, Daly explains that her book is based on the 19th-century poem by John Godfrey Saxe, itself based on an ancient Indian fable told by Buddhists, Jains, and others (and retold in many picture books before this), but Daly has added an ending so the mice learn the whole truth. Daly’s soft acrylic illustrations use golden colors for what look to be the savannas of southern Africa, and in the one scene with people, they’re depicted as black, with colorful, modern clothing. Each cute mouse is a different color, with small black eyes, and the elephant wears a serene, benevolent expression.
Sweet illustrations and an updated ending to an old fable allow the moral to come through without the conflicts of earlier versions. Lovely. (Picture book. 4-7)