An Orange for Frankie ) takes a familiar premise and turns it into food for thought. The brief and knowing text, narrated by an unnamed pigtailed girl, c"/>

Emma Kate

Patricia Polacco, Author . Philomel $16.99 (28p) ISBN 978-0-399-24452-0

Polacco (An Orange for Frankie ) takes a familiar premise and turns it into food for thought. The brief and knowing text, narrated by an unnamed pigtailed girl, catalogs the many ways the title character makes the perfect best friend ("We sit together in the café-gym-a-torium at lunch. When we get home from school, we ride our bikes together"). That Emma Kate is also a large gray elephant (her hilariously humongous derrière spills off one spread) seems to make their bond more meaningful. Emma Kate is a modest masterpiece, with tiny expressive eyes shining through masses of exuberantly cross-hatched flesh. A generous sense of humor, keen observation and a seemingly effortless, expert draftsmanship unite in the way the animal comports itself. Polacco splits the difference between fantasy and reality by demonstrating how the pretend pachyderm's girth wreaks genuine havoc. In one scene, as the girl and Emma Kate read on the sofa (sharp-eyed readers will note that the literary selection is one of Dr. Seuss's Horton books) the section underneath the elephant has flattened like a pancake. Grown-ups may detect a more elegiac undercurrent at work here. While most of the pictures are handsomely rendered in gray pencil, the narrator's old-fashioned dress, anklet socks and Mary Janes appear in radiant red and aqua; it's as if Polacco sees her narrator as a magical emissary from a more innocent yet fearlessly imaginative time. Ages 3-up. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 08/08/2005
Release date: 09/01/2005
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