17 KINGS AND 42 ELEPHANTS
A rollicking nonsense rhyme, first published (with different illustrations) in Britain in 1972. Echoing the contagious, rhythmic incantation of Kipling's "Old Man Kangaroo"--"Forty-two elephants--oh, what a lot of 'ums,/Big feet beating in the wet wood shade,/Proud and ponderous hippopotomums/Danced to the music that the marchers made"--Mahy invents deliciously silly words to suit her rhymes and makes deft use of alliteration. The ebullient journey through the jungle passes a fine array of beasts, brought amusingly to life in the broad double-spreads and vibrant hues of MacCarthy's batiks. One query: given the setting and transportation, how come 16 kings are white with brown hair and one is an Oriental--with a queue, yet? This should perk up the most jaded group; its merry rhythm begs for a physical response.