Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Where’s the Elephant?

Barroux (Author/Illustrator)
Candlewick Press 2016. 28 pages
First published: 2015
ISBN: 9780763681104 (hardcover)
Original language: French
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

setting

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

This nearly wordless picture book hides three animals on each double-page spread. At the beginning, we are introduced to the friendly-looking creatures: an elephant, a parrot and a snake. Then the fun begins. Lush, brightly-coloured illustrations are crammed edge to edge with vibrant trees of every imaginable variety, making the three animals difficult to find. With each turn of the page, things change. Trees are cut down, roads are built and buildings crowd in until they are as thick as the forest itself, with no room for the animals at all.

Using collage, acrylic and pencil, the multimedia illustrations effectively tell the story of deforestation and loss of habitat. Trees, animals and buildings look like tinted and patterned paper cut-outs. Graphite lines sketch the windows and simple details, like the outline of an elephant ear. Clever and appealing, their poignant message packs a punch. While most pages are zoomed out, giving a sense of perspective, toward the end we focus in on a cluster of buildings, so dense that the three animals are now forced to live in a zoo.

There is a happy ending though. The elephant, snake and parrot break out and sail away to an unspoiled island, where they live peacefully, away from human interference. A brief author’s note speaks to the inspiration of the book and the deeper lesson that is hidden in its seemingly simple pages.

  •  

    Go for a picture walk. Find the elephant, the parrot and the snake on each page. What do you notice?

  •  

    Discuss the message that the author is trying to convey through the illustrations. How is urban sprawl going to affect the planet, the climate, our culture, etc.?

  •  

    Connect the illustrations and the author’s message with your own experience, with other texts you have read or seen, or with events in society. Create your own almost wordless book, illustrating your connections, in the same style as this book.

  •  

    Go for a picture walk. Find the elephant, the parrot and the snake on each page.

  •  Look at the pictures again. What do you notice?
  •  

    What is the author’s message? How does urban development and encroachment change our world? Connect this discussion to a situation closer to home (e.g. losing a local park to a shopping centre, highways going through farmland). How could you illustrate that situation in the same style?

  • To exercise critical judgment
  • To use information
  • Environmental Awareness and Consumer Rights and Responsibilities
  • Geography, History and Citizenship
  • Science and Technology