cover image Never Ride Your Elephant

Never Ride Your Elephant

Doug Johnson. Henry Holt & Company, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-2880-5

Talk about outdoing Mary and her little lamb. In the same vein as Johnson and Carter's Never Babysit the Hippopotamuses!, this zany title treats pet elephants as perfectly ordinary. A list of elephantine at-school behaviors is accompanied by images of a tusker wreaking classroom havoc (``He will trumpet quite loudly while looking for you. This could scare some of the children''). Students should ``never open a bag of peanuts, even across the room from him,'' but they might let the elephant participate in spelling bees because ``an elephant never forgets!'' Johnson pursues his idea perhaps too exhaustively; he doesn't leave much room for readers to imagine their own elephant-instigated disasters. Carter (Summer Legs) creates a genial watercolor elephant whose trunk and limbs look as malleable as wet gray clay; as it strolls along, wobbly, distorted settings suggest its thudding footsteps. Gigglesome extras include the student pachyderm's pink polka-dot trousers, the skewed views of the frequently distressed teacher and assorted classroom chaos. Ages 4-7. (Sept.)