cover image Zelda's Secret

Zelda's Secret

Pascal Lemaitre. Bridgewater Books, $13.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8167-3309-5

Crudely drawn jungle creatures, washed-out watercolors in earth tones and simplified butterflies and flowers illustrate this story of a petite pachyderm betrayed by talkative friends. Zelda divulges her wish to be a prima ballerina to fellow elephant Nina, who promises to keep Zelda's secret. But Nina can't resist whispering the news to a rhinoceros, who lets some giraffes in on it. Pretty soon, the whole animal kingdom is giggling at Zelda. Until this point, Lemaitre's ( Emily the Giraffe ) cautionary tale holds a promising message of trust--however, when a wizard-like owl casts a spell on the blabbermouths and leaves them literally ``tongue-tied,'' it's easy to forget the down-to-earth moral and think solely in terms of revenge. Similarly, the finale--Zelda's dream finally comes true on a jungle stage with an audience of all her friends--is pushed too far: ``Zelda was so popular, she was invited to make an around-the-world tour.'' Readers hoping to turn the page and learn of Zelda's new adventure will be disappointed by the open-ended, sudden conclusion. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)