Friday, July 26, 2019

Review - Through the Elephant's Door

Through the Elephant's Door
by Hélène de Blois
illustrated by France Cormier
Date: 2019
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 48
Format: e-book
Source: library

It's a rainy day so the boy and his elephant, Émile, decide the perfect way to pass their time is with a trip to the museum. Their problems start before they even walk through the doors. First, what door does an elephant fit through? And second, why does the grumpy guard assume they are going to cause problems? It seems like as soon as they start to enjoy an exhibit, he's right there yelling at them not to touch anything. Like they would ever do that!

Then, in a flash everything changes and suddenly Émile and the boy find themselves in a very precarious situation. Will the guard be right about these two after all?

(synopsis from Goodreads)

Through the Elephant's Door tells the story of a boy and his elephant, Émile. One day, they decide to go to the museum. They try to enjoy themselves, but a guard makes assumptions about Émile simply because he's an elephant, and he threatens the duo with expulsion. It isn't until the friends help foil a burglary that the guard comes around.

This is a bit of a strange title. It's heavy on the text, and the language is fairly advanced for a picture book. The guard character is also likely a statement about prejudice and assumptions. (Just because Émile is an elephant doesn't mean he's going to go stampeding through the galleries.) The guard is actually so brazen, he hurls insults directly at Émile, whose feelings understandably get hurt.

The foiling of the burglary isn't so much an intentional act as it is Émile reaching his breaking point. It works, but it's a bit of a cop-out, plot wise.

As an adult, I enjoyed this rainy-day romp through the museum. (I especially like the pretentious painting that the boy and Émile puzzle over: Blue Rectangle on Blue Background. Is that really art, or is the artist just pulling our leg?) But I'm not sure if kids will be as enamoured with the story or the writing. There's a cute elephant who wears a raincoat, though, so that's something.

Quotable moment:

Premise: 3/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 4/5
Originality: 4/5

Enjoyment: 4/5

Overall: 3.67 out of 5

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