Subscribe to The Horn Book

Review of A Parade of Elephants

A Parade of Elephants
by Kevin Henkes; illus. by the author
Preschool    Greenwillow    40 pp.    g
9/18    978-0-06-266827-1    $18.99
Library ed.  978-0-06-266828-8    $19.89

“Look! Elephants! / One, two, three, four, five. / Five elephants. / Marching. / A parade of elephants!” The sturdy walkers, each rendered in a pastel color with a thick brown outline, stay in the same order throughout: blue first, then yellow, violet, green, and, finally, a smaller pink elephant. Subtle changes in body position and eye shape reveal a joyful sense of purpose during each of their activities. As the elephants arrange themselves across each double-page spread, counting gives way to prepositions while they march over, under, up, down, and around, always proud and purposeful. Bold panel arrangements reveal the group steadfastly on the go until, when “day is done,” we learn that one special task remains: “Before they sleep / they lift their trunks… / and they trumpet— / scattering stars across the sky.” Small stars rising from the five upturned trunks break a panel border for the first time. The last page-turn shows all five creatures asleep under a sky full of stars: “Good night.” With A Parade of Elephants Henkes (Egg, rev. 1/17, and many others) again displays his understanding of preschoolers: hungry for new information and experiences but also needing a framework of solidity and comfort. This combination of concept book, pourquoi tale, and bedtime story — stripped of all unnecessary flourishes — is simply perfect.

From the September/October 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Lolly Robinson About Lolly Robinson

Lolly Robinson is the creative director for The Horn Book, Inc. She has degrees in studio art and children's literature and teaches children's literature at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. She has served on the Caldecott and Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committees and blogs for Calling Caldecott and Lolly's Classroom on this site.

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind