cover image The Bird Who Was an Elephant

The Bird Who Was an Elephant

Aleph Kamal. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-397-32445-3

The Hindu concept of reincarnation is the inspiration for this visually arresting book, in which a white bird is told he was an elephant in a former life. As the bird flits through the busy village streets, images of Indian culture filter through: crowded stalls in the marketplace, gaily colored clothing, the cacophony of sounds and, most of all, the smells--spices, incense, jasmine. Indian words (``namaste,'' ``baksheesh,'' ``rupee''), sprinkled throughout the text and explained at the end, add to the foreign flavor. Best known for her Caribbean-inspired artwork, Lessac's primitive style translates well to this setting; her colorful paintings and whimsical border designs radiate warmth and affection. While Kamal's story is a simple one, the harmonious blend of words and paintings offers readers a series of unique impressions of life in this exotic land. Ages 5-9. (Mar .)