cover image The Elephant Wish

The Elephant Wish

Lou Berger, , illus. by Ana Juan. . Schwartz & Wade, $16.99 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-375-83962-7

Berger, the head writer for Sesame Street , offers a lush, poetic story that begins whimsically but has a denser, eerier mood. On her eighth birthday, Eliza Prattlebottom hopes, “Oh, I wish that an elephant would come and take me away!” An elephant in a floppy black hat arrives at the door and whisks her away at “four times the speed of wind” to a “jungly” place “full of creatures.” The plot is complicated, involving Eliza's distracted parents (her father is a businessman and her mother an opera singer) and Adelle, a nonagenarian who nurses her own fond memories of Cousin Floyd (the elephant). Juan's (The Jewel-Box Ballerinas ) mixed-media pictures offer a similarly surreal complexity and depth. Vines swirl, dragonflies dart, and the line between reality and the imagination blurs, creating just the kind of dreamscape a child's wish might conjure up. From Mr. Prattlebottom's glass eye to Adelle's 200-year-old bulldog, Potato, the details are strange and wonderful, and there is a sophistication in the story, including references to Verdi and a dull boardroom (aka “the long table”), that will entertain adults as well as children. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)