Mighty Muddy Us

Abrams. (Feeling Friends). Oct. 2023. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781419763731.
K-Gr 2–Readers already enjoying the “Feeling Friends” series are likely to be satisfied by its newest entry, which introduces an anthropomorphized family of elephants including a newborn who arrives in the world injured and whose life is thus immediately in danger. The book draws readers in from the first with a tale of siblings and survival based on a real elephant family, but the narrative tension dissipates quickly for antsy younger readers. Baby elephant Ely needs Enid, his older sibling, to protect him, but by the time he celebrates his first birthday, the narrative moves to Enid’s emotional world; she is less necessary to his survival. Santoso’s dynamic and beautifully lit illustrations shine at dusk and dawn, but lose a bit of their luster as the elephant brother and sister mature on the savannah and make their way through a blinding dust storm. The author’s strength, articulating trickier parts of the emotional terrain of relationships with empathy and care, helps deepen an understanding for the challenges of being an older, protective sibling given a helper role and then having to relinquish.
VERDICT This title offers guidance for caregivers and will be sought after where other titles in the series are popular.

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