Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Monday, October 11, 2010


Our youngest son, Jonathan, went through a period from about ages 3 to 6 when he was completely fascinated and obsessed with elephants.  I think it was Colonel Hathi's Marching Song from  DISNEY'S JUNGLE BOOK movie that started the whole thing.  Jonathan had stuffed elephant toys and little plastic figurines. Every time we went to the library, he had to pick out an "elephant book".  For his fifth birthday, we even went to our local zoo where he could actually ride on the back of an elephant with his friends!

From Babar to DUMBO, elephants have long interested children. When Jonathan was in his "elephant stage", we learned about the differences between Asiatic and African breeds:  Among other things, African elephants have huge ears, very wrinkled skin, and no humps or dents on their heads.  Asiatic elephants have smaller ears, smoother skin, and humped structures on the tops of their heads, with dents on their foreheads.  We learned all this from visits to the zoo and Jonny's library books!  Here are some that were his favorites:

BUT NO ELEPHANTS by Jerry Smath. Endearing picture book about Grandma "Tildy", who loves all animals, "but NO elephants".  A salesman comes and sells her a bunch of pets, but she won't take the elephant.  After seeing him left out and all alone in the snow, she finally lets him inside and becomes very angry because the elephant eats all their food! In the end, he takes Grandma Tildy and the other pets to a "warm and sunny place".  (Or as 3-year-old Jonny used to say, "Gwamma Tiewdy went to a wom and sunny pwace".)

POLITE ELEPHANT by Richard Scarry.  "Everyone likes a polite elephant".

LITTLE GRAY ONE by Jan Wahl (illustrations by Frane Lessac)  This beautiful picture book, with bright folk-art-like gouaches, is about a day in the life of a Mother African Elephant and her "Little Gray One".  Your child will learn with the little elephant how elephants pick fruit, take a bath, stay cool from the sun, and relieve an itch.  Very soothing text, but exciting, vibrant illustrations.

ELEPHANTS: A BOOK FOR CHILDREN, by Steve Bloom.  Facts and beautiful photographs of elephants.  Any elephant-obsessed child would love this book!

THE SAGGY BAGGY ELEPHANT (Little Golden Book) by K. Jackson and B. Jackson (illustrations by Gustaf Tenggren)  The Saggy Baggy Elephant learns that there is beauty in differences. You just have to see them in other creatures. When he learns that he looks like an elephant, and dances his way into the jungle, being saggy and baggy isn't a problem anymore.

UNCLE ELEPHANT by Arnold Lobel. While his mother and father are away, a little elephant goes to visit his uncle. And what a time they have! Uncle Elephant makes wishes come true, tells amazing stories, and trumpets the dawn. The visit is perfect, except for one thing:  it ends much too soon.

HORTON HEARS A WHO by Dr. Suess (Past blog post)

THE STORY OF BABAR by Jean De Brunhoff.  "If you love elephants, you will love Babar and Celeste," writes A. A. Milne in his preface to "The Story of Babar". "And if you have never loved elephants, you will love them now."
The first adventures of the enduring, endearing elephant, Babar, was written in 1931 by French writer Jean de Brunhoff (1899-1937). Since then, it has been translated into at least 12 languages. Some pretty amazing things happen to this little elephant in the course of his first book: Babar loses his mother to a hunter, wanders into the city, gets a new wardrobe, becomes the hit of high society, marries his cousin Céleste (totally acceptable in contemporary Elephantine society), and is crowned King of the Elephants.  There's a whole series of these great stories!

THE JUNGLE BOOK by Rudyard Kipling.  Your children will love the stories of Mowgli, Rikki Tikki Tavi and more. (ages 8 and up)

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful, every child should have a Babar book!