A pink elephant named Poe sits in the middle of a town’s only road and won’t budge—until someone bothers to find out why he’s there.
The people of Prickly Valley aren’t happy that Poe is blocking their road. A traffic jam forms. People honk and yell at Poe. A traffic cop writes him a ticket. When that doesn’t work, they try making all sorts of noises to shoo him away, from trombones to tap dancing, then turn to begging and bribing. They bring mice, cranes, and magicians. The mayor forms committees. Balloons, fire hoses, and the force of all the people in town can’t get Poe to go. Finally, a brown-skinned girl named Marigold, who’s wearing a hijab that reflects her name, asks the mayor (a pink-skinned woman with white hair and pearls) if anyone has thought to ask Poe why he won’t go. Marigold, who is “fluent in both kitten and hedgehog,” says that “anyone can speak elephant if they just listen hard enough.” She climbs up and listens closely to Poe, who smiles for the first time, then she tells the crowd Poe is waiting for a friend. The mayor doesn’t believe her, but a news reporter thinks he may have seen Poe’s friend. OHora’s matte-finish acrylic-and-pencil illustrations are reminiscent of Madeline’s but with a pink and gold palette; Marigold is an endearing heroine. After the buildup and anticipation though, the story’s conclusion (Poe was sitting on his friend, a monkey named Moe) is more puzzling than satisfying.
A cute escapade for the silliest readers. (Picture book. 3-7)