In this children’s picture book, a boy who loves elephants discovers that they never forget.
After his mother reads him a zoo-animal book, Alex, a blond-haired white boy, wants very much to see real-life elephants. The next day, she takes him to the zoo. At the elephant enclosure, Alex discovers that a baby elephant has gotten its ear caught in a gate. He shakes the gate, and the elephant frees himself, although its ear gets torn with a triangular notch. Alex’s mother tells her son that his kindness will one day be rewarded. Years later, grown-up Alex takes his daughter, Lauren, to the zoo. She accidentally falls into the elephant exhibit, but she’s rescued by an adult elephant with a notched ear. In her debut, Ahrenholz tells a straightforward story of a favor given and returned. There may be better reasons to treat animals well, other than hoping to be rewarded, but young readers will find satisfaction in seeing Alex’s mother proved right. That said, readers don’t get much sense of why Alex finds elephants so enthralling other than that “they used their trunks to do everything.” Similarly, Lauren’s fall into the exhibit has little sense of real danger. Keys’ illustrations of humans are stiff, but the animals have more verve and expression.
A somewhat lackluster lesson in paying it forward.