This very busy board book seems to want to be a toy.
Sturdy, wipeable board pages and layered cutouts make a dense, leafy forest habitat for an elephant preparing for his birthday party. The illustrations give a good sense of the rain forest, but the plants’ multiple shades of brown, green, and orange disguise the other animals almost too completely. Finding the gazelle, monkey, and parrot hiding in the greenery could be a challenge for toddlers who do not yet know what to look for. Two extra-thick board-over-foam interior pages provide a nesting place for an elephant cutout that acts as a sort of one-piece puzzle designed for children to play with as they read; little ones will likely grab the elephant and not want to let it go. Young children most in need of board books may not sit still for the somewhat wordy story. Elephant's repeated question, “Do you know that today is an important day?” could serve as a refrain, but slight rewording each time he asks makes it difficult for toddlers to anticipate the question and join in. Companion title Here Comes Leo Lion has many of the same problems, plus a rather heavy-handed lesson, in which Lion learns, rather quickly, that boasting about his wildness will not win him friends.
Toddlers ready for simple stories will find better choices among regular picture books. (Board book.1-3)