When Your Elephant Comes to Play

Ale Barba. Philomel, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-399-16312-8
Mexican author-illustrator Barba makes a vivacious U.S. debut with the story of a rosy-cheeked boy who happily recounts the chaos that accompanies Wednesday visits from his friend Prudence, an elephant. The story is essentially a string of cautionary warnings: if you offer an elephant "a slice of your dad's famous double chocolate cake, just out of the oven," odds are good that the elephant will eat the whole thing and wreck the kitchen, too. The same goes for tackling chores (sweeping up dust causes Prudence's expressive trunk to curl into a spiral before she erupts into an enormous, gravity-defying sneeze), swimming, and more. Painted in bright reds, pinks, yellows, and blues, Barba's artwork has a joyful, childlike energy that is ideally suited to this series of improbable causes and equally over-the-top results, as when bouncing on the bed sends the boy and elephant hurtling across town. Lest anyone think that elephant friendship is all bad, the boy concludes with a reminder that their hugs can't be beat. It's a story as irrepressible as the cross-species pals it stars. Ages 3–7. Agent: Prospect Agency. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/14/2016
Release date: 04/05/2016
Genre: Children's
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