How to Find an Elephant
Illustrated by Boris Kulikov Published November 14, 2017
What to do on a dull gray day? Head into the wilds and look for an elephant. You will need a pair of binoculars, a blanket, a flute, some food, a little imagination, and a lot of curiosity. Look and listen closely, because elephants can be anywhere. And watch out, because if you’re not careful, the elephant may find you first!
With pleasing prose and “now you see it, now you don’t artwork, Banks and Kulikov take readers on a romp that will both challenge and delight.
It’s a gray and slightly rainy day—what better time to go looking for an elephant? The pith-helmeted backyard explorer created by longtime collaborators Banks and Kulikov (the Max series) doesn’t encounter his quarry until the final pages, but the elephant is not nearly as elusive as the boy thinks it is: readers can spot the grinning creature throughout, whimsically camouflaged into lush paintings that blend fantasy and reality. As the second-person guidebook-style language offers pro tips (“The first thing you will want to do is climb to the top of the nearest tree”) and salient points (“Don’t forget elephants are fine swimmers”), there are false alarms (a rhino looks a lot like an elephant), wild adventures (a monkey takes the boy for a swing), and many lovely, graceful moments. In one spread, readers see the world through a pair of rain-dotted binoculars; in another, the boy and several animals walk on tiptoe while the elephant, hidden by trees, does the same. Forget about the elephant in the room—the one in your imagination is a lot more fun. Ages 3–6. –Rick Margolis, Rising Bear Literary. (Nov.)
School Library Journal
An imaginative, elephant-loving young explorer goes on an adventure to find one in the wild. Outlining all the necessary supplies an elephant explorer should have, he ventures out, providing a step-by-step guide to addressing the expected and the unexpected as they occur. This title’s approach to the unknowns of exploration is full of humor and pragmatism. Although not the most exciting or adventurous read, it has a good deal of heart and excels at giving young readers interesting facts about elephants such as, “don’t expect to hear the elephant’s footsteps, because they walk on tiptoe” or “elephants are fine swimmers.” Readers also learn that the pachyderms have large appetites, so having plenty of bamboo shoots and tree bark handy is helpful. However, the book’s greatest achievement is its illustration, which perfectly meshes with the text. The lush shades of green, blue, and brown in the landscape allow for subtle optical illusions in the wild that young readers will enjoy identifying. VERDICT For extra-curious, nature-loving, budding explorers, this engaging title is a real treat. –Maegen Rose, Collegiate School, New York City