Through the Elephant’s Door

Orca. Apr. 2019. 48p. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781459821934.
K-Gr 2–This imaginative story combines scientific information about elephants, art appreciation, and a heist to create an unusual but effective exploration of prejudice. A boy and his friend Emile the elephant are looking for something fun to do on a rainy day. They decide to visit a local museum. Upon arrival, however, they realize that Emile will not fit through the entrance and will have to use the delivery door. Already feeling somewhat out of place, Emile’s experience is not improved when a nervous guard follows the friends closely throughout the exhibits. The guard insults Emile’s size and rudely describes parts of Emile’s body, such as his “windmill ears” and his “behind that’s as big as a mountain.” The boy and Emile try to fully experience and appreciate the paintings, vases, plates, and figurines, but the guard’s behavior is an unwelcome distraction. The narrative shifts when the lights go out. When Emile thwarts would-be robbers, the guard changes his mind about who belongs in a museum. The book is well designed and the artwork invites close inspection. In the end, the museum leaders are so grateful to Emile that the delivery entrance gets a new sign.
VERDICT Translated from the French, this quirky book humorously demonstrates the danger in judging others by their outward appearances.

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