The Elephant in the Room by James Thorp and Angus Mackinnon

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The Elephant in the Room by James Thorp and Angus Mackinnon

Category: For Sharing
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: A psychedelic whodunnit! An unusual picture book with good rhymes.
Buy? maybe Borrow? yes
Pages: 48 Date: October 2017
Publisher: Templar Publishing
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781783707737

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Somebody has smashed Father Giant's elephant. Who on earth could it be? Can Father Giant unravel the mystery of what happened, and who will face being banished from the house forever once he discovers the truth? Told in a rhyme that gets more and more surreal as it goes along, this is a wild and brightly illustrated mystery story, with an interesting moral at the end.

The first thing that strikes you with this book is the colour scheme. It's loud, and in your face, full of neon orange that makes you open your eyes wide with each turn of the page. The illustrations feel like something designed for the Beatles, a mixture of Yellow Submarine and Sargent Pepper! It's very stylistic, lots of flowing lines, simplistic faces and surreal items such as talking and walking sofas! The backgrounds are mostly black, or dark colours, so the whole feel is quite different to a typical children's picture book and becomes less of a story, and more of an experience!

The story itself works well, flowing from page to page with increasingly surreal events, a little like a Dr Seuss, though without the made-up words. The story of why the elephant got broken becomes very complicated, in the way that long, rambling tales from small children often can, but the result is that actually, the culprit behind it all is most likely Father Giant himself, because he was too busy and grumpy to play with the children! Father Giant suggests that he must then leave the house, since he is at fault, but the children insist that they can all work together to fix the elephant.

The typeface used is rather unusual, with a strangely curved lowercase letter v and w. I wouldn't normally comment on a font in a book, but this one was so distinctive that it did interrupt my first read through of the book as I had to keep checking I'd read words correctly whenever they contained one of these letters! I also found some of the colour choices for the text and background weren't the easiest to read - mauve text on black is tricky to read in low level bedtime lighting. I wondered about accessibility, and I think it would be off-putting for those with dyslexia, both children and adults. However, I did like the page about the smashed elephant where the lines staring at the broken pieces scattered on the floor' are themselves broken up and scattered down the page. It's a clever effect, and it's a shame there weren't other interesting uses of the text like this within the book.

The style of the book isn't my favourite, to be honest, but it's very well done and very distinctive. I'm sure there are many grown up picture book aficionados who will love it because it is very unusual! For me, the incredibly loud illustrations detracted from the text. I'd suggest taking a look at it first. Perhaps it will be your most favourite book ever! But personally, it wasn't exactly my cup of tea, and hasn't gone onto the favourites pile in our house.

Further reading suggestion: You might also like to try The Weasel Puffin Unicorn Baboon Pig Lobster Race by James Thorp and Angus Mackinnon.

Buy The Elephant in the Room by James Thorp and Angus Mackinnon at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Elephant in the Room by James Thorp and Angus Mackinnon at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Elephant in the Room by James Thorp and Angus Mackinnon at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Elephant in the Room by James Thorp and Angus Mackinnon at Amazon.com.


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