Elephant is too big, too tall, clumsy, heavy and slow to shine in any of the games Leopard Zebra and Monkey suggest, so his plaintive response of ‘Oh, no. I’m not good at that’ will have every reader cheering him on. It is only when he gets his go, that the tables are turned because his game – ‘Tug o’ War’ requires strength and Elephant has that in abundance.
In a simple, repetitive refrain we see Elephant’s sporting yet fruitless attempts to hide, catch and leap about, ending with his gallant win. This is what a good picture book should be – refreshing, simple and in tune with a young child’s view of the world. But it is the illustrations, lush, rich and creamy as melted chocolate, which make this book special. Bursting from each page with vigorous power, they entertain and amuse with their energetic humour. Cleverly creating stillness with the large, ponderous elephant shapes juxtaposed against the frantic movements of the smaller animals, the compositions have a taut dynamism, that require a sophisticated eye to read, while still being approachable for the very young. Sure to tickle the fancy of many a young reader.