The Little Elephant Who Lost His Bath by Jedda Robaard

Little Elephant woke up feeling very grouchy.

He was hot and dusty

and needed a swim …

Little Elephant woke up feeling very grouchy.

He was hot and dusty

and needed a swim …

Little Elephant wakes up and feels in need of a bath. He investigates many options to achieve this but none are right. Eventually, though, with the help of a friend, he finds the perfect bath. Gently coloured illustrations are pencil and watercolour set in white space. Sturdy square format, board pages and lift-the-flap, designed for little hands.

The Little Elephant Who Lost His Bath, Jedda Robaard
The Five Mile Press 2016
ISBN: 9781760400408

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

As Big As You, by Sara Acton

As Big As YouClaude was a large elephant.
Finlay was a small one.

Claude is so large that he can make the earth shake with his trumpets, shower a whole herd of elephants, and stomp like thunder. Finlay is little and can’t do any of those things. He can’t wait to be as a big as Claude. But when they become separated Finlay has a special adventure all of his own. When they are reunited, Claude tells Finlay that one day he will be big, too. But in the meantime there is no hurry to grow up.

As Big as You is a breathtaking book. The story is really heart warming and the message is a good one, but it is the visual feast offered by the illustrations and design of the book which make it really magic. With the spine at the top rather than the side, each spread is long (portrait rather than the usual landscape orientation), which enables Claude’s size and the vastness of the landscape to be emphasised. On the opening spread, Claude is so big that very little of him fits onto the spread – one leg, one ear, one eye and a trunk frame the page, with the void in the middle bearing the single sentence ‘Claude was a LARGE elephant.’ The next spread introduces Final, and has him at the bottom of the spread, eye to eye with two beetles, and the spread above him largely empty apart from three butterflies. The cleverness of this beginning is carried through the book with simple yet beautiful watercolour illustrations and attention to text layout.

This is a beautiful book.

As Big as You, by Sara Acton
Scholastic, 2015
ISBN 9781743629697

Baby Bedtime, by Mem Fox & Emmay Quay

I could eat your little ears.
I could nibble on your nose.
I could munch your tiny fingers.
I could gobble up your toes.

The gentle lulling rhythm of this rhyming bedtime offering is divine. Written for the very young, it could be read to newborn babies but will still be suitable for older toddlers and preschoolers, especially as an end of day read. The text describes all the things the narrator/parent could be doing in adoration of the child, but ends with a reminder that it’s bedtime and so time for sleep. In the meantime, the kissing and cuddling and settling to bed has happened in the illustrations – between a a pair of purple elephants who could be either a male or female parent (or grandparent/carer) and child. These lovely elephants are rendered using pencil and acrylics, and digital collage using a variety of objects including fabrics, knitting and baskets.

The format of the book also makes it suitable for bedtime – the hardcover being cushioned to make it soft touch. It’s easy to imagine a toddler sleeping with the book.

Perfect as a gift for a newborn, Baby Bedtime is a book to be treasured.


Book Cover:  Baby Bedtime

Baby Bedtime, by Mem Fox & Emma Quay
Penguin, 2013
ISBN 9780670075195

Available from good bookstores and online.

Animal Rescue: Elephant Alert by Jackie French

It’s a tough old world when even your guinea pig thinks you’re boring.

It was hot in Leo’s backyard, even in the shade by the guinea pig cage. Alan Nesbit Kirk wrinkled his pink nose. ‘Were there screams and clashing swords?’

‘No,’ said Leo. ‘Not in maths class.’

‘Not even any fire-breathing dragons?’

Leo sighed. He didn’t want to think about school on a Sunday afternoon.


Alan Nesbit Kirk gave the whisker twitch that meant, ‘Nothing interesting ever happens to you.’

It’s a tough old world when even your guinea pig thinks you’re boring. But that’s Leo’s lot. He doesn’t really fit in at school. He’s not that interested in football, loves reading and can speak animal. Speak animal? Yes, animal. He knows what animals are saying and can respond. Not exactly the sort of skill that’s going to win points in the playground. But suddenly, classmate-who-hardly-speaks-to-anyone Mozz sends a skateboard riding robot gorilla to invite him over to her house. Suddenly life is about to get much more interesting. Not safe, not dull and boring, quite scary really, but interesting. She needs his help to help rescue some elephants from the threat of a tsunami.

Jackie French takes animal rescue to a completely new place, with superfast jet travel, animal-talking and an apparently robotic gorilla. ‘Elephant Rescue’ is a wild romp across the world, with little time for any anxieties of a reluctant hero. Because although Leo gets involved in this adventure, and although he acknowledges it had to be done, he’s far from convinced he really wanted to be there. There are themes of conservation, and doing the right thing even if you’re not feeling all that brave. There is comedy in every character, from Leo’s food obsessed mother, to Mozz’s brilliant and eccentric inventor grandmother. An absolute hoot! Recommended for confident independent readers, or perfect as a read-to.

Elephant Alert (Animal Rescue)

Elephant Alert, Jackie French Scholastic Press 2012 ISBN: 9781741698480


review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

Elephant Dance, by Sue Whiting

Nervously, Hugo’s trunk began to sway.
His middle jiggled.
Then he bobbed…
and bounced…
and sang out loud!

Hugo and Millie, two young elephants, are the best of friends. They do everything together, and when they first hear music, they dance together. But Millie gets sick of dancing, and Hugo wants to do nothing else. They argue and separate. But when Hugo finds himself in trouble, Millie uses music to help him out.

Elephant Dance is a beautiful picture book about friendship and compromise. The repeated refrain of ‘boom-boompa-chee’ will delight youngsters who will echo it during and after the story – when I read it to a class of year one students they wanted to boom-boompa-chee around the school for the rest of the day.

The illustrations, by Nina Rycroft, are in beautiful pastels with the browns and greys of the elephants offset by rich orange and blue skies and green grasses. The music weaves through the illustrations on coloured ribbons, symbolising the way it drifts through the air and carrying the tune from page to page and across spreads.

This is a beautiful picture book offering.

Elephant Dance, by Sue Whiting and Nina Rycroft
Koala Books, 2007

The Day of the Elephant, by Barbara Ker Wilson and Frane Lessac

The great elephant turned her head from side to side and flapped her ears as she walked along…Dang Kiet sensed that Mae Jabu was not very happy today.

When the big elephant Mae Jabu makes a visit to the village, the children are excited. But before long their lives are in peril as a tsunami strikes. The gentle Mae Jabu becomes their life saver as she lifts the young children onto her back and carries them to safety, out of reach of the rising waters.

When the Boxing Day Tsunami hit Thailand and other Asian countries in 2004, it brought massive tragedy. But amidst the destruction there were also many amazing tales of survival, including tales of elephants who helped rescue people from the giant wave and its aftermath. The Day of the Elephant shares one such story.

This inspiring tale is well complemented with the folk art illustrative style of Frane´ Lessac with bold colours and simple yet telling depictions of the various scenes.

Royalties from the sale of The Day of the Elephant have been donated to the Asian tsunami aid effort.

The Day of the Elephant, by Barbara Ker Wilson , illustrated by Frane´ Lessac
Angus and Robertson (an imprint of Harper Collins), 2005

India the Showstopper, by Kerry Argent

Reviewed by Magdalena Ball

Exuberant showstopper India is a star. When she plays the mouth organ, everyone in the zoo responds. Popcorn flies into the air, the animals perform their best, and horses dance to her “funky jazz, disco and hop-hop.” But talent and popularity are no guarantee of a good audience or decent financial figures, and Barney the ringmaster calls in consultant/re-trainer Oswaldo the Magnificent to set the circus back on the road to financial success. In her first written publication, well known illustrator Kerry Argent has created an evocative and funny picture book. India is full of human-like foibles that children will relate to, and Oswaldo is a great big rhino in leopard skin, just scary enough to be plausible and still funny enough to keep young children laughing until the end.

The story tackles a situation which children will be familiar with, and deals in a very positive way with the notion of change, insecurity, and problem solving. Children will love the animated characters, and the sumptuous watercolour and ink illustrations. The colours are soft and burnished, and the animals’ expressions add significantly to the characterisation in this rich story. The plot and language are simple enough to appeal to the very young, but still contain enough drama for an expressive reader to keep the interests of older children. There is plenty of detail to point out as well, including things like curlers on the poodle‘s head and tail, iced donuts for morning tea, or the interesting pot plants outside the animal’s trailer. India is definitely the star of the show though, and the feel good ending will make this story one which children will request again and again.

India the Showstopper
By Kerry Argent
Allen & Unwin
Hardover, ISBN 1865085960, November 2005, $A24.95

This review first appeared at Preschool Entertainment. It appears here with permission.

Hugo the Lifesaving Sailor, by Lorette Broekstra

Hugo the elephant is off sailing in his boat, Gypsy. It is a lovely day and the other residents of Hometown are out having fun on the water, too. But when the wind blows up, there is a cry for help. Penelope Pentland has been swept out to sea. Hugo and Gypsy must save her. Soon everything is back to normal and Hugo leads the way home.

Hugo the Lifesaving Sailor is a simple adventure story for littlies – aged 1 to 5. With brief, basic text, bright primary colours and lots of animal characters, youngsters will follow the story and like the elements of repetition. For those at the older end of the age range, there are maps on the endpapers, which show Hometown and the path of Hugo’s travels.

Bright and attractive.

Hugo The Lifesaving Sailor, by Lorette Broekstra
Allen & Unwin, 2005