Elephants Have Wings by Susanne Gervay
Ill. by Anna Pignataro. Ford Street Publishing, 2014
(Age: 7+) Recommended. Susanne Gervay's picture book, Elephants Have Wings is a retelling of the parable of the six blind men and the elephant, found in many religious traditions including Buddhist, Hindu, Jain and Sufi faiths.
At bedtime an Indian father tells his children, one of their grandfather's tales. Six children are sent outside in the dark to search for the secret. They find different objects, a rope, tree branch, marble, a scarf and a sandy wall. They cannot agree and begin to shriek like a babble of monkeys. When the grandfather illuminates the scene with a candle, they realise these form the parts of an elephant. After the brother and sister climb onto the creature's back, their magical journey begins across cities and jungles into the diamond sky with a golden moon. When the bedtime story concludes, the children have gained an understanding of the moral. Everyone is different, but we're all the same, too.
Anna Pignaturo's multi-modal illustrations, utilise painting with soft watercolours, Asian and Indian motifs, collage and sketching to bring life to Susanne's Gervay's tale. The detailed double-page spread with the ruby red background and the abundance of paisley patterned elephants, provides opportunities for teachers to explore and engage their students with the study of Indian art.
Recommended for readers from 7+ and as a classroom resource to explore inclusivity and diversity.