Six Blind Mice and an Elephant

illus. by Jude Daly. 28p. Otter-Barry. Jun. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781910959428.
PreS-Gr 1—In this story based on a familiar Indian fable, six blind mice follow their noses to a barn where an elephant is dozing. But before they have the chance to explore the new smell, a cat chases them into a hidey hole, where they overhear people talking about the remarkable creature. When the people (and the cat) finally go away, the six blind mice continue their quest to discover the new thing, but they disagree about what it is. One by one, they describe how the elephant appears to them: solid as a wall (body), sharp as a spear (tusk), supple as a fan (ear), twisty as a snake (trunk), thick as a tree (leg), and long as a rope (tail). This is a fairly straightforward and gentle retelling, concluding with the elephant delivering the lesson that one cannot know something without considering all of its parts. The artist sets the story in her native South Africa and uses a sun-drenched palette of yellows, browns, and greens. Acrylic illustrations focus primarily on the six adorable mice and how they imagine the elephant looks, with the most successful page using their descriptions to construct the elephant's shape from a cumulative assemblage of six disparate pieces.
VERDICT While not nearly as striking as Ed Young's Seven Blind Mice, this charming retelling is accessible and brings new life to an old tale.

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