Reviews /

The Littlest Elephant

Authored by Kate Read
Illustrated by Kate Read
Published by Two Hoots Books

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The Littlest Elephant tells the story of an overexcited baby elephant who in her rush to charge through the jungle on her way for a swim does not notice the effect she is having on the way. The little, happy elephant could so easily be a small child and this picture book encourages young readers to slow down, take notice of their surroundings and show consideration for others.

As baby elephant rushes along at the start of the story the reader or listener can see the difficulties she is causing to others albeit unintentionally. When one disgruntled animal finally makes her stop and take notice, she realises the importance of being more careful. She slows down, looks where she is going and tries to be patient. These are life lessons that small children sometimes struggle with and this picture book would be excellent to share in Early Years settings or KS1 gently conveying through both words and pictures the need to consider others. This is a book that could be added to a primary school library’s empathy collection. In addition, the story gives opportunities to name the different animals and to link to other stories set in the jungle. 

Kate Read’s bold, engaging illustrative style is perfect for this story featuring jungle animals. The mixture of painting and collage adds layers to both the vegetation and the creatures themselves and there is a sense of movement as the little elephant blunders through the pages. There is so much to notice and the expressions on the animals’ faces contribute to the moments of humour and contrition. The illustrations work well; there is the use of speech bubbles, double-page spreads and an unexpected page turn reveal that adds to the story. In the final pages as the baby elephant and the other animals appear together as a team supporting and helping each other provide a lesson in empathy in a manner that even the youngest child will probably recognise.