cover image Hiding Phil

Hiding Phil

Eric Barclay. Scholastic Press, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-545-46477-2

How to camouflage an elephant so your parents won’t see him? That’s the dilemma three eager siblings face after they discover a blobby blue elephant named Phil sitting at the bus stop. Barclay’s (I Can See Just Fine) story unfolds through minimal speech-balloon dialogue, giving his cartooning a key storytelling role. After the kids happily jump rope and teeter-totter with Phil and give him an outdoor bubble bath in a kiddie pool, the sister announces to her brothers, “Mom and Dad will love Phil!” All of the characters (even a rubber ducky) make goggle eyes on the next spread as the girl quickly follows up that statement with an “Uh-oh.” Their predictably futile efforts to hide Phil make for lots of physical comedy (“Um. Is that an elephant?” asks the kids’ mother as soon as she sees Phil disguised as a clubhouse). Humor also derives from the kids’ earnestness and the way Barclay telegraphs their emotions as they delight in Phil’s company, bid him a teary adieu, and joyfully welcome him back when their parents relent. Ages 3–5. Agent: Kirsten Hall, the Bright Agency. (Sept.)