Nothing will deter Sadie from her mission of transporting an elephant to her beloved Great-Aunt Josephine, who “lives almost completely alone and could really use the company.”
When the postmaster brings out a wheelbarrow full of stamps and a calculator, however, the carrot-topped heroine realizes she will need to find an alternative to mailing the pachyderm. She borrows a conveniently located biplane. Insiders will recognize this plane (inverted on the book jacket as it was on the most famous misprint in philatelic history); those who don’t know the reference will just laugh at an upside-down airplane with a goggle-wearing elephant. After it crashes in a river, Sadie boards, in succession, an alligator, freight train (commandeered by bean-eating masked monkeys) and an ice cream truck. When readers finally meet the aunt, it becomes clear that she has been the recipient of many similar presents. Stead’s fans will recognize the unique blend of quirky logic and compassion that drives his persistent wayfarers. Cordell’s carefree lines and dappled watercolors draw viewers in with bold action and tiny touches of humor. Portions of text are treated graphically, and it is likely that “chugga chugga chugga BEANS BEANS BEANS” will linger in children’s lexicons. Stamps do get their moment—in the conclusion and on the seek-and-find case beneath the dust jacket.
Animal lovers and stamp collectors, especially but not exclusively, will be enthralled. (Picture book. 4-7)