Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Review - Humperdink Our Elephant Friend

Humperdink Our Elephant Friend
by Sean Taylor
illustrated by Claire Alexander
Date: 2019
Publisher: words & pictures
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

When Humperdink the baby elephant joins the children’s playgroup, he seems friendly enough, but it soon becomes clear that he’s not very good at the usual games the children play, like dressing up or hide-and-seek. When he breaks the children’s favorite slide, everyone feels sad. But with a little patience and understanding the children soon discover that Humperdink is good at some things–especially if they use their imaginations–leading to a riotously fun conclusion. A delightful picture book with endearing artwork and a humorous story to engage young readers and help them gain an understanding about those different from themselves. This title helps children learn the key skill of playing with and accepting new friends, whatever their size, shape... or species! Exploring themes of empathy and imaginative play, this title is a must-have for young readers seeking to understand the world around them.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This is sort of a middle-of-the-road picture book for me. It's cute, but the story is a little too simple for my taste and there are a few technical issues with the writing.

I do kind of like the illustrations. They almost give the book a vintage sort of feel. But the diverse array of children depicted kind of give away the fact that this isn't a book from the 1960s. Humperdink the baby elephant is pretty cute himself, although one does need to suspend a bit of disbelief to imagine that a giant pachyderm was allowed into a playgroup with toddlers.

The story is fairly basic. When the elephant joins the playgroup, the kids try to teach him their favourite activities. But he can't fit into the dress-up clothes, he's terrible at hiding, and--oh, no!--he breaks the kids' favourite slide. With nothing to do, the kids ask Humperdink to show them what he enjoys... and he ends up taking them on an elephant-walk into the "jungle" outside. (I wasn't sure about this part at first. After reading it again, it seems to be an imaginary jungle, but since having an elephant in the playgroup is already pretty fantastical, I thought at first that the jungle might be real.)

This book could've used one more pass of an editor's red pen. I don't know why (maybe because someone thought it looked smarter), but words like "everyone" and "anymore" are separated into two words. Unfortunately, this changes the meaning and makes the sentences clunky and confusing. So I had to take off some points there. (This wouldn't be an issue if one was reading aloud to kids, though, so keep that in mind.)

Overall, I wasn't blown away by Humperdink Our Elephant Friend, but it's entertaining enough and will probably appeal to small children. Adults, however, will probably leave with at least one unanswered question: Did the grownups in charge ever fix the kids' slide?

Thank you to NetGalley and words & pictures for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 3/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 3/5

Overall: 3 out of 5

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