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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Strictly No Elephants, written by Lisa Mantchev and illustrated by Taeeun Yoo. A Paula Wiseman Book, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. 2015. $22.99 ages 4 and up

"My tiny elephant leads
me back to the sidewalk,
never minding the cracks.

That's what friends do:
brave the scary things for you.

"Did you try to go to the Pet
Club meeting too?"
the girl asks."

This is another of the books that I shared when I visited Val's class last week. As I read, I was also able to read the faces around me - concerned and sympathetic to the plight of the young boy and his elephant as seen on the cover.

Obviously, an elephant is an unusual pet. But, the two love each other and are always together. Their friendship is strong and full of concern each for the other. When the two take a walk in the rain, the elephant holds the umbrella. When the elephant faces trepidation about crossing the cracks in the sidewalk, the boy carries him over. 'That's what friends do.'

Excitement over Pet Club Day leads them to a nearby clubhouse where a sign of rejection is placed on the door. Disheartened, the two walk away. A sudden downpour leaves them wet and bedraggled, not unlike a young girl they find sitting on a bench, pet skunk in tow. They were unwelcome at the pet club as well. In misery one often finds company, and that is exactly what happens. Their disappointment is the perfect opportunity to change the way a pet club can work ... include everyone! 'That's what friends do.'

Uplifting and oh, so satisfying to a class of children who want nothing more than to treat their classmates with love and respect ... a lesson so clearly taught by a loving and respectful teacher. What a blessing!

Taeeun Yoo's quiet linoleum block prints are a soft and charming accompaniment to this debut picture book.

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