cover image Almost an Elephant

Almost an Elephant

Rhinehart Friessen, Rhinehart Friesen. Hyperion Press, $7.95 (44pp) ISBN 978-0-920534-60-1

A lump of clay with a mind of its own--and delusions of grandeur--is the unlikely subject of this somewhat trivial tale. A potter's shop in Greece is the setting, where the lump, realizing it is too small to be a stunning objet , aspires to become at least one of the animals fashioned from the clay remnants. A contest of wills ensues when the potter decides to make a small elephant, but the recalcitrant mass keeps sucking in its stomach and extending its legs: ``It wanted to have a slim body and long slender legs and pointy stand-up ears and a dainty kissable nose.'' Anxious for his dinner, the irate potter sets the clay to dry and the next morning discovers not an elephant, but a graceful deer. This slight concept--and slight execution--occasions some striking, albeit unusual, artwork. Though not to all tastes, perhaps, Czernecki's deliberately static folk art paintings have a primitive charm that overcomes the lackluster storytelling. Ages 5-8. (Aug.)