This tongue-in-cheek text gives instructions on elephant-discovery methods when boredom threatens; the art shows an earnest, but oblivious, child on safari—and camouflaged elephants galore.
The young child is light-skinned, blue-eyed, and fair-haired, with gender unknown. Following the (rather pedantic) narrator’s instructions, the child moves from idleness to an elephant quest. The child’s prescribed gear—including binoculars, a flute, and a blanket “that’s tasseled and brightly colored, with a story woven through the cloth”—awaits a backpack near a beckoning doorway. Page after page, the text gives pointers on elephant-spotting, while the sophisticated, textural artwork allows young readers to spot elephants that the obedient, fictional child does not see. A mostly pastel palette backgrounds the brightly clad child, veering freely between an imaginary jungle and tamer spaces. A particularly funny double-page spread shows the child filling up a bright red water bottle and standing on what appears to be a rock in a watering hole. The water is actually spurting from the trunk of a mostly submerged elephant, and the child is unwittingly perched on its large, rough knee. Although, in the end, child and elephant are merrily, consciously linked, the final whimsical image contradicts advice given much earlier—“look for something large and gray”—and compels readers to revisit the entire book.
Another tribute to imagination from highly creative partners. (Picture book. 3-7)