Here are two things I discovered about picture books through Year 1 as an elementary school Teacher Librarian: a good joke never stops being funny, and don’t underestimate the power of a well-timed page turn.
These truths convince me that What to do if an Elephant Stands on Your Foot, by debut picture book author, Michelle Robinson, is sure to be a hit with the small people when I head back to the library in a couple of weeks.
“If an elephant stands on your foot, keep calm. Panicking will only startle it.”
Good advice indeed. So opens this adorable book of wisdom for wannabe safari adventurers. I’ll bet you can imagine where it goes from there. The hapless main character just cannot seem to follow the narrator’s instructions in any situation, leading him to more and more dangerous encounters with various jungle creatures. Those wee folk, they love the repetitive structure. Same joke? Slightly different scenario? Bring it on. They’ll be laughing. Personally, I get a big kick out of reading this kind of story to a group because inevitably, the more they laugh, the more you’ll be laughing too, and it sure is a wonderful feeling to be enjoying a story so much together. There are plenty of opportunities for dramatic page turns throughout this one as the reader cannot wait to see if the main character will find a way to escape again. It reminds me a little of another great new picture book that I had the luck to see tested before it’s August release on a young audience in my school library, It’s a Tiger! by David LaRochelle with illustrations by my fav elf-y illustrator, Jeremy Tankard. (That title will be getting it’s fair share of love soon).
I like the sass in the narrator: “Honestly, you’re hopeless! If you’ve been noticed by a crocodile, don’t expect me to help you.” I’m sure kids will buy in to this too. That personality is echoed to perfection by Peter H. Reynolds’ spot-on delightful illustrations. The over-the-top reactions of the “hero” will crack kids up, and the facial expressions on all of the animals are pretty priceless. The colours really pop off the page, enhancing the energy of the narrative. Altogether, the whole package has a larger-than-life, exaggerated feeling that is pure fun from start to finish.
Sure to make September storytime a blast.
What to do if an Elephant Stands on Your Foot is published by Dial Books for Young Readers.