cover image Robi Dobi: The Marvelous Adventures of an Indian Elephant

Robi Dobi: The Marvelous Adventures of an Indian Elephant

Madhur Jaffrey. Dial Books, $14.99 (80pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-2193-7

Vibrant paintings embellish a chapter book based on an elephant character Jaffrey's father invented during her childhood in India. Robi Dobi, an elephant who rescues smaller animals, first encounters Kabbi, a mouse turned orange by a smelly snake-witch, who wishes to spot him when she's hungry. Robi Dobi suggests a curative pilgrimage to the Great Painter in the Sky. On the way, they encounter an injured butterfly air-ballerina and a kidnapped parrot princess. After considerable heroics involving the purple panther wedding liturgy, the ""Tree of Flexible Glue"" and the ""Cave of Healing Liquids,"" the now-brown Kabbi et al. return to boil the snake-witch in her own bubbling brew. Jaffrey's (Seasons of Splendour) text is sprinkled with adventurous spirit and farcical detail. But it's Hall's (How the Leopard Got His Spots) delicious illustrations, both color and black-and-white, that breathe life into these characters, from the moment elephant rescues mouse in a dark purple monsoon, trees bending and river churning, to the victorious parade of Robi Dobi and the rescued mice at the close. All ages. (Sept.)