Tag Archives: silly

Day 150 – Have You Seen Elephant?

Have you seen “Have You Seen Elephant?” by David Barrow? If you have, you will likely have noticed the very large elephant hiding behind a tiny tree while a little boy looks out and you shrugging his shoulders. It looks rather silly, right? Well, it is – delightfully so!elephant

You see, the little boy and the elephant are engaged in a game of hide and seek. “Would you like to play hide and seek?” the elephant asks. “OK.” says the little boy, “You hide.” “I must warn you, though,” the elephant cautions, “I’m VERY good.” Yeah, right. Right? But it turns out that he is very, very good…or is he? Little readers, and the boy’s dog, may be able to spot the elephant on every page (behind the drapes in the kitchen, under the comforter on the bed, holding up the TV in the living room, sitting with a lampshade on his head) but neither the boy, nor his parents, seem to see the elephant. At long last, the elephant taps the little boy on the shoulder: “There you are!” the little boy cries…before being challenged to a game of tag by a tortoise who has wandered into the picture. “I must warn you, though,” he cautions, “I’m VERY good!”

This story is tons of fun for read aloud and the artwork is playful and expressive, which serves to amplify the smiles. The combination is quite engaging for listener and reader alike – “Can YOU spot the elephant?”, “Do you think that the elephant is good at hiding…or is the boy just pretending not to see?”, “Do you think his parents really can’t see the elephant?” In fact, according to this interview with Mr. Barrow, that is exactly the kind of ambiguity that the author was going for. As an aside: in the linked interview, I also liked the way that Mr. Barrow describes the “audition” he held to identify the right little boy for the lead. I think he chose well; every time I look at the smile on the little boy’s face it makes me grin.

Oh – and one more thing: after reading over multiple reviews – and the aforementioned interview – I could find no reference to any deeper meaning in the book, although when we first picked it up I assumed that “Elephant” must be an allegory. You know: no one will talk about the “elephant in the room” even though everyone can see it? We pored over the illustrations, especially the family portraits that adorn the front and back pages of the book, and we thought we identified something. But, were we trying to read too much into it? Why were those family portraits there? I’ll leave it up to each individual reader…either way, allegory or no, this was a really fun – and funny – book.

Day 139 – In Enzo’s Splendid Gardens

So far this year, books by Patricia Polacco have appeared twice on our reading list (“Fiona’s Lace” and “The Keeping Quilt”), and her tale “An Orange for Frankie” will absolutely be on the December list as it has been one of our favorite Christmas tales for several years running. In each of these books we found a heart-felt tale inspired by Ms. Polacco’s family history. Today’s story, another from Ms. Polacco’s vast literary canon, also draws on family for inspiration – and while it takes a different tack from her other books we have read, it is no less entertaining. “In Enzo’s Splendid Garden” takes the reader on an entertaining and increasingly chaotic ride. It is a rollicking and rhyming good time, and a delightful book for read-aloud.

enzo“In Enzo’s Splending Garden” introduces us to Ms. Polacco’s husband, Enzo, and the story takes place at his Italian restaurant in Oakland. The book begins with a little bee buzzing past the patrons in Enzo’s splendid garden. This is all fine and dandy until a boy, fascinated with bees, turns to look at the bee and drops his book. First a waiter trips on the book, then he flings a drink from his tray onto a “matron all dressed in pink”, and, well, things deteriorate quickly from there. At one point, Enzo’s cat Lettie takes off running up a palm tree wearing a pot full of spaghetti! On every page, the rhyming text builds, tossing a new “wrench” into the mix and building to complete pandemonium…until firemen arrive to rescue Lettie from her perch in the palm tree, and someone thinks to ask “how did this happen?”

This book was a lot of fun to read. It was almost like a game to see if I could read the ever-longer passages with only one breath…although that approach seemed to be a stressful experience for some listeners, so I had to let up. Ms. Polacco’s helter-skelter watercolor illustrations were a perfect complement, adding to the sense of disarray conveyed by the text. The emotive expressions on the faces of the patrons added to the humor. I think it’s safe to say that this departure from our typical Patricia Polacco experience was a very fun – and funny – detour. Now I want some spaghetti!

Day 71 – Chewy Louie

For anyone who has ever owned a puppy, “Chewy Louie” by Howie Schneider will sound very familiar. It is a cautionary parable that becomes a tale of hope, patience, and redemption – and Mr. Schneider’s illustrations of the goofy, exuberantly destructive little puppy of the title are certain to put a smile on your face.Louie

The story is narrated by a young boy whose father brings Louie home one day. Louie is a diminutive black puppy who loves to chew…on everything. He eats all the food his new family puts in his bowl, and then he eats the bowl. He chews up toys, headboards, the back porch, and the veterinarian’s office. He runs off the construction crew hired to repair the house as well as two dog trainers with diametrically opposed approaches to curing Louie of his obsession with chewing. Eventually, the entire family has reached the end of its rope and has resigned themselves to the fact that they will have to part with their Tasmanian devil of a dog…until Louie plays one last game of catch and actually returns the stick without chewing it at all! It seems Louie was just going through a phase – he’s all better now because “he’s not a puppy anymore.”

Every page of this book is littered with pictures of Louie’s handiwork…there are chunks missing from just about everything you can think of. No bites are taken out of the people around Louie – but their clothes, canes, and guitars are not safe. Mr. Schneider’s depiction of Louie’s protruding teeth and pink tongue, his frantically wagging tail, and the almost drunken look of satisfaction on his face in some scenes are quite amusing – especially in contrast to the various looks of horror, astonishment, anger, or even resignation on the faces of the people around him.

It’s a really fun book to read and to look at – and best of all, it gives us a little glimmer of hope that one day our puppies will stop chewing our house.