Written by: Ted Landkammer
RETRO BOOK REVIEW
In this simple yet charming tale, a nine-year-old girl bonds with an unexpected stray she finds in her backyard.
Children are often fascinated by animals. In fact, it’s quite common for them to have a favorite animal that they obsess over. Most parents have certainly had to deal with kids who insist that everything they own–from their pajamas to their backpacks–should have to include pictures of dinosaurs, owls, horses, or various other creatures, both cuddly and notso-cuddly.
Ted Landkammer’s I Wish I Had an Elephant tells the story of Emily, a young girl who loves animals. She lives an idyllic life in a small town that’s filled with her friends and their pets. Using prose that would be easily understood by young ones who are just starting on their reading journey, Landkammer weaves a sweet, frothy confection of a tale. In just a few sentences, he effectively introduces readers to Emily and sets up her world, charming the readers with quick glimpses into an almost magical place where whimsical things can happen.
When Pudgy, the young elephant from the zoo, gets frightened during a parade and runs away, the entire town tries to find him. To Emily’s surprise and delight, she discovers Pudgy is hiding in her backyard. The two become fast friends and their bond remains strong even after Pudgy has to go back to the zoo. The emotional journeys the two main characters take is depicted with a deft hand by the author, and the ending is sure to make young readers ask for more stories about the adventures of Emily and Pudgy.
This book can be an excellent bedtime story for very young children as the plot is easy to understand while the colorful illustrations bring the characters to vivid life. Meanwhile, children who are just learning to read would likely find the story’s prose to be enough of a fun challenge that it would encourage them to keep reading.
If there is one wrinkle to be found in this tale, it’s the lack of other characters’ involvement in Emily’s fun times with Pudgy. It would have been great if there were more scenes of Emily bonding with her elephant friend as well as her human friends. Simply charming throughout with eye-catching illustrations, I Wish I Had an Elephant is a
story that’s sure to capture the imagination of every child who adores animals.