Elephant me by Giles Andreae
Illus. by Guy Parker-Rees. Hachette, 2020. ISBN: 9781408356524.
(Age: 4+) Recommended. When Elephant Mighty sits on his throne, he asks all the young elephants to come forward and show what they can do. In this way the younger elephants are given their name, reflecting their talent. Enthusiastically they all line up, proudly demonstrating their abilities, eagerly waiting for their name to be given by the great king.
One pulls a tree out of the ground and gets the name, Elephant Strong, another trumpets so loudly he is given the name, Elephant Noisy, and at the end of the day when all the elephants have their names, only one small elephant is left. He is unsure of what talents he has, and tries to show some tricks to the crowd, but they laugh, and Elephant Mighty calls him Elephant Nothing At All.
Told in four line stanzas, the story builds up to the point where the little elephant is derided by the others, the audience now will have realised that the tale is about bullying and how easily people's self esteem is undermined.
Nunn-Nunn moves away and lives near a waterhole with a bunch of other animals. One day the warthog asks him why he is there and when he explains, the other animals are aghast, after all he is friendly, and kind and true. They remind him that he is unique, for in all the world, there is only one of him.
So they all descend on Elephant Mighty and state their case, that each elephant is unique. This brings Elephant Mighty to tears, because his name has meant that there are things he would like to do but cannot.
So everyone decides that they should be able to do what they want to do, not be hamstrung by names and expectations, neatly encouraging readers to think about their own talents and self image, especially in relation to the expectations of those around them.
An empowering tale told by the creators of the award winning, Giraffes can't dance (2019).
Themes: Humour, Elephants, Africa, Self image, Isolation, Talents, Self esteem, Empowerment.