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THE BIG ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM by Lane Smith

THE BIG ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM

By Lane Smith (Author) , Lane Smith (Illustrator)

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: July 7th, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4231-1667-7
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Well-known for now-classic works such as The Stinky Cheese Man and newer titles like John, Paul, George & Ben (2006), Smith has to stretch to fulfill his fans’ outsized expectations. While the “big elephant” really is big (he practically fills the living room), his story doesn’t quite reach the creative heights readers will be anticipating. Essentially this is the tale of two donkey friends (though one really is a bit of an ass). When asked by his friend about the (unseen) big elephant, the narrator runs through a litany of misunderstandings, missteps and outright unkindnesses that he believes his friend might be referring to. Frenetic illustrations in muted neutrals show the various situations, clearly meant to be hilariously reprehensible but mostly appearing mean-spirited instead. The ultimate joke, on readers as well as the narrator, is that the opening question was literal. The revelation of the (real) big elephant is amusing but not enough to save this one-note story, the joke of which will have to be explained to many a child. Ardent fans won’t mind—but this could have been better. (Picture book. 4-8)