Henkes’ latest tale for preschoolers focuses on five elephants whose daylong march provides opportunities for counting and exploring opposites.
“Look! / Elephants! // One, / two, / three, / four, / five.” A clear grid places the corresponding number of elephants to the right of each number. This parade (a collective noun for a group or herd of elephants) travels up and down hills, over a bridge above jumping fish, under palm trees, and in and out of a cave. Thick lines of brown ink contour the simple shapes, and a different pastel color distinguishes each elephant. (The first and largest elephant is blue; the fifth elephant, who marches last, is small and pink.) The pared-down narrative, delivered handsomely on thick, creamy paper in 46-point Futura Medium, is wryly funny: “They march all day. // And when the day is done, / they are done, too.” After the elephants yawn and stretch, “they lift their trunks… // and they trumpet— / scattering stars across the sky.” This lovely metaphor is humorously extended visually, as each elephant’s trunk seems to spew a burst of five-pointed stars upward. (The little elephant manages five.) Then: “Good night.” The elephants lie in a cozy huddle below the stars, signaling bedtime for sleepy kids, too. Brown endpapers bracket the story’s simple arc: butterflies and the sun at the start; the moon and stars to end it.
A muted palette and uncluttered yet nuanced compositions distinguish yet another winsome title from Henkes. Toddlers and grown-ups—snuggle up and enjoy. (Picture book. 3-6)