A long-tusked elephant cabbie shows that the true power behind the wheel is a helping hand.
Driving a red vehicle furnished with hose, watering can, and ladder, sporting a sign that says “Tuski” on the roof, the elephant makes a point of picking up every stray traveler—and object—they see, however ludicrous-seeming. A big-billed blue bird offers directions on what to pick up, always with a cheerfully imperious “Beep, beep!” (or “Honk, honk!” or “Toot, toot!”) and “Let’s go!” When a now well-loaded Tuski attempts to scale a tall hill, however, their traveling companions discover that the only thing stronger than an elephant in a truck is the force of gravity. Complementing the forthright instructions proffered by the bird, the book sports only the boldest of bold primary colors rendered in gouache on paper. Readers accustomed to interactive books in the vein of Hervé Tullet’s may, at first glance, assume that the book is offering instructions directly to its young readers. Yet after a couple pages it becomes clear that only the elephant is meant to obey the bossy bird’s whims. Kids that are comfortable with this book’s particular brand of internal dream logic may well be charmed. Children (and adults) seeking a book that’s a little more plot-forward should probably look elsewhere.
Sweet surrealism for the preschool set. (Picture book. 3-6)