What does Fletcher’s elephant smell like?
After tea on Saturday, Fletcher notices that Elephant smells “different.” Usually Elephant smells like all the places he’s been recently…but not today. Fletcher goes off to seek some help in determining what Elephant smells of now. Mom says dirty socks. (Fletcher disagrees.) Dad says popcorn. (Fletcher disagrees again.) Fletcher also contradicts his sister, Iris, who, after making a crown of clovers for Elephant, thinks Elephant smells like clovers, and Fletcher disagrees with his best friend, Henry, who thinks Elephant just smells like Fletcher (a combination of honey, beetle wings, and rubber boots). Fletcher gives Elephant one more good sniff, takes everyone’s suggestions into account, and declares, “Elephant smells like hugs!” Tina Ballon DeBord’s wordy text is borderline precious; Fletcher’s olfactory quest with its twee denouement is not interesting enough to sustain the book. Kim Jackson DeBord’s washed-out watercolors over plain, black line drawings do not hold the eye and appear unfinished. The characters are all white as the paper they’re drawn on; Fletcher’s family members all have straight, black hair (Fletcher has a cowlick that makes him look like a chocolate kiss), and Henry’s hair is black and crinkly.
Toddlers may identify with Fletcher’s devotion to Elephant, but far more engaging stuffed-friend tales abound. Try them first. (Picture book. 2-5)