Where's the Elephant?

Where's the Elephant? illus. by Barroux. 32p. Candlewick. Mar. 2016. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9780763681104.
PreS-Gr 3—With minimal text and bright, bold illustrations, Barroux introduces children to the topic of deforestation in a poignant fashion that invites discussion. By beginning with simple questions that ask the location of an elephant, parrot, and snake, he establishes a familiar seek-and-find narrative that is comfortable and engaging. At first, this is mildly challenging, as Barroux's acrylic and pencil creatures are cleverly hidden in their jungle habitat. This quickly changes, however, as trees are soon removed and replaced by houses, roads, and cars. Eventually, the natural environment is gone and a zoo encapsulates the cheery animal friends until they elect to bust free, making for an ocean raft and new island home. Each spread is full of stunning art, with the lushness of the diverse tropical leaves set against the increasingly uniform and stagnant buildings. The excitement of hide-and-seek soon turns to crushing loss, forcing readers to ask why this conflict is occurring. The animals' final flight, along with the contrast between cityscape and natural environs, conveys an important message regarding the ecosystem and the role humans play within it.
VERDICT Although clearly written for a younger audience and highly recommended for all picture book collections, this introductory text can be used to spark discussion with elementary school students embarking on environmental studies.

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