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The Picture Book Buzz

How to Find an Elephant - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

First, congratulations are in order. The winner of the signed Finn Finds a Friend is:

Julie Rowan-Zoch

Sometimes when you least expect it, you find exactly what you're looking for. I know there have been times when, searching for something, I swear I looked in the exact spot minutes ago where I found the item. Gnomes, pixies, house elves or just great camouflage? Can't be old age, as my kids have had the same problem.

Talking about "hiding in plain sight." I finally found the Tawny Frogmouth Owl in our zoo. Although it supposedly roosts near the trail, free-roaming in an aviary, it remained hidden. Finally, this fall, I found it, perfectly blended into the bark of the tree.

How to Find an Elephant is about seeking something right in front of your nose.

How to Find an Elephant

Author: Kate Banks

Illustrator: Boris Kulikov

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (2017)

Ages: 3-6



Imagination, observation, and humor

Synopsis (from Macmillan):

What to do on a dull gray day? Head into the wilds and look for an elephant. You will need a pair of binoculars, a blanket, a flute, some food, a little imagination, and a lot of curiosity. Look and listen closely, because elephants can be anywhere. And watch out, because if you're not careful, the elephant may find you first! With pleasing prose and "now you see it, now you don't" artwork, Kate Banks and Boris Kulikov's How to Find an Elephant takes readers on a spirited romp that will both challenge and delight.

Opening Lines:

The best time to look for an elephant is on a dull day

when clouds hover on the horizon

looking like spaceships.

And you're thinking up something to do.

Why I like this book:

In a humorous "How to" book, Kate Banks offers instructions on how to find an elephant. However, the child, while determined, is quite oblivious. Despite having the requisite pith helmet, explorer gear, and a "tasseled and brightly colored [blanket], with a story woven through the cloth," s/he humorously can't find the quarry. Despite numerous interactions and near misses. Though largely tongue-in-cheek, the narrator interweaves facts about elephants throughout the story.

The illustrations are priceless. Boris Kulikov masterfully hides elephants throughout the story, along with a very long-suffering rhino.

The lush landscape images in brown, blue, and green provide the backdrop for fun optical illusions that blur reality. Allowing young readers to "be smarter," spotting the elephant the main character keeps missing. The ending whimsical image of the child and elephant encourages the reader to return to the story. This book, full of heart and imagination, this is an excellent interactive read-aloud story.


- try other hidden picture challenges. Highlights for Children has one in each issue;

- drawn your own hidden elephant;

- make a paper plate elephant (; or

- visit a zoo and watch an elephant move and eat.

This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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