cover image Little Gray One

Little Gray One

Jan Wahl. Tambourine Books, $15 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-688-12037-5

In undulating prose Wahl paints a picture of ``the place of the water hole,'' where the elephant Little Gray One and his mother live, and where ``quick cheetahs run with beautiful gazelles.'' As the day passes, the mother teaches her offspring a multitude of vital information--how to pick the sweetest plums (``by yanking up a black plum tree''), the best way to take a mud bath, how to find comfort beneath a shady fig tree in the midday sun. Her solid presence and the constant refrain of ``One for me. One for you'' provide a soothing background against which Little Gray One experiments with youthful exuberance--he runs with the wildebeest (``Look, look! I am a wildebeest!'' ``No you are not,'' says his mother), frolics with monkeys and gets stuck in the mud but, with his mother always near, he remains safe. Timid children will like this story; daredevils will not. Lessac's lush, folk-art-like gouaches introduce a feeling of energy and excitement not always apparent in the text. Vivid oranges and pinks capture the exotic setting, while the animals are depicted with pleasing naivete and freshness. Ages 3-up. (Sept.)