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

Lolly Robinson is the former 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 blogged for Calling Caldecott and Lolly's Classroom on this site.

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