A little boy is nervous about going to the hospital to have his tonsils taken out, and he searches for a stuffed animal who will comfort him. A ragged old blue elephant named Barney has come through in tough times before: on a camping trip, in the airport, on the day the boy's older brother left for kindergarten. Barney has even been to a hospital before -- to visit the boy when he was a newborn in the maternity ward. Although his family thinks that Barney is too battered and worn for the trip, the little narrator convinces them that Barney should go with him to the hospital and they finally agree with him that ""Barney is best."" Carlstrom (Hove Does the Wind Walk, 1993, etc.) writes a down-to-earth text here, one that is enhanced by Hale's comforting depictions of family life. The combined effect is a gentle and perceptive look at the anxieties children have when faced with scary new situations. Heartwarming -- despite the elephant's unfortunate name.