It’s sometimes to look at books, and see comparisons, and I don’t think this is a bad thing at all. I think nostalgia and familiarity in books is a very powerful thing, and can evoke some wonderful feelings of pleasure when we read them. For day 14 of the Book Monsters advent I chose The Elephant in the Room written by James Thorpe and illustrated by Angus Mackinnon and published by Templar for exactly this reason.
If ever a book encompassed nostalgia, this is it! It feels like a wonderful mash up of artwork of The Beatles Yellow Submarine and the writing of Dr Suess. And I don’t mean to say it’s a copy or a rip off, believe me, this book is unique and completely new, but the feel and style certainly has parallels, with its own twist.
Someone broke the elephant ornament, but no one knows who. When the Father Giant enters the room, he sets about discovering the culprit, on the threat of the guilty party being ordered from the house. Every character has their own story to tell, until eventually, someone owns up to the truth, and maybe, just maybe, Father Giant has some apologising to do.
The real stand out feature of this book are the unusual, bold and somewhat surreal illustrations, which is unlike any picture books I’ve seen before. It caught my eye and I really loved the fantasy edge to them. I think young children will be drawn to this book. The writing is written in rhyme and is bursting with personality and fun, just like the Dr Suess stories, they flow almost like a song, it’s very easy and fun to read out loud.
This book exudes fun and fantasy and silliness, yet underneath it all, is an important message about telling the truth, forgiveness and not taking people for granted as Father Giant may have done his children. It’s really nicely done, subtle enough to not be cheesy or spoil the fun element, but clear enough to carry the message across. It reads like a detective mystery, which is great fun and allows for much discussion and contemplation. I just think this is a thoroughly enjoyable and worthwhile picture book! A great gift for children this Christmas!