In this offbeat tale, friendship forms as the result of a lovable, bumbling elephant’s mistake.
When Elephant comes across a lost book, he accidentally inhales its words. The words are soon sneezed out, but the letters are in chaos. Not knowing how to fix them, Elephant takes the letters to his friends, who, much to Elephant’s distress, are not very interested in restoring them to the book. Clever design shows Alligator about to “chew” the letters, while Seal just wants to “spin” them. The use of a limited palette and lots of undecorated white space makes the close communication of jungle, savannah, forest and marine animals seem more plausible than it would otherwise. Finding no real help, he just sniffs the letters back up into his trunk. When Gracie—the book’s owner—finds Elephant sitting on her beloved book, strangely, she chooses to pull on his trunk (an action that seems rather cruel). Only after that doesn’t work does she tickle him, which elicits a sneeze that releases the letters. Gracie then uses the letters to create a new story about friendship. The adorable endpapers are particularly noteworthy, featuring Elephant posing as the 26 letters in the English alphabet, echoing the main theme of the book.
A sweet, funny story—though not without its awkward moments—with a metafictive theme that should entertain. (Picture book. 3-6)