cover image Yellow Elephant: A Bright Bestiary

Yellow Elephant: A Bright Bestiary

Julie Larios, , illus. by Julie Paschkis. . Harcourt, $16 (31pp) ISBN 978-0-15-205422-9

Playful, whimsical images abound in Larios's (Have You Ever Done That? ) 14 animal-themed poems, all delightfully realized in Paschkis's (Through Georgia's Eyes , reviewed Feb. 20) exuberant paintings. As the collection's title indicates, the animals each get an assigned color, some ordinary (Gold Finch, Brown Mouse), others extraordinary (Purple Puppy, Pink Cat). Still others transform unexpectedly (for the Green Frog, "One hop/ and her green/ is gone./ See how she swims,/ blue frog now/ under blue water"). Every poem gets a full-page illustration and a handsome, visually linked decorative panel. Swirling shapes offset geometric patterns to harmonious effect. Paschkis's exquisitely balanced painting for "Green Frog" renders a serene metamorphosis, as the frog takes a leg-extending plunge, her legs green above the surface, and underwater she becomes blue. Smoothly combining assonance, alliteration and near rhymes, Larios creates images that invite readers' enthusiasm, as with the title poem: "Oh,/ I think no other animal can/ (I know a mosquito can't)/ glow in the jungle sun/ like a wild-eared/ yellow elephant." A dynamic, contagious energy emanates from both the poetry and the art, whether the animals take to the air, land or sea. Ages 5-10. (Apr.)