Zola’s Elephant

Randall de Sève, illus. by Pamela Zagarenski. HMH, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-328-88629-3
In this tale by de Sève (A Fire Truck Named Red), a girl named Zola moves in next door to the narrator, a girl about Zola’s age. From the sounds and smells that make their way to her, the narrator imagines a charmed existence for Zola. A huge moving box, she decides, must hold Zola’s pet elephant. The smell of toast must mean that Zola is giving her elephant a snack (“Elephants get very hungry”), and the ruckus she hears is Zola and her elephant playing hide-and-seek (“There’s always thumping and yelling/ when you play hide-and-seek/ with your elephant”). Jewel-box artwork by Caldecott Honor artist Zagarenski recalls the exquisite detail of Persian miniatures. Lush, gold-splashed paintings show the improbable hijinks of girl and elephant, while moody blue spreads show what Zola is really doing: she’s eating toast all by herself, it turns out, and holding her ears against the racket made by a man with a hammer. The real elephant in the room is the fear of making new friends—a fear the narrator finally conquers. Readers may find themselves wishing not for a friend, but for an elephant. Ages 4–7. Author’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/20/2018
Release date: 10/09/2018
Genre: Children's
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