if an elephant stands

What to Do If an Elephant Stands on Your Foot by Michelle Robinson, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

You must stay calm, if an elephant stands on your foot.  The last thing you want to do is startle it…YEEEOOOWWW!  Now you probably want to run away from the elephant, but resist that and don’t run.  After all, running attracts tigers.  Oops.  OK, so now that you have the tiger’s attention you have to be silent.  No sudden noises, like a sneeze.  And so the romp in the jungle continues with the poor character steadily making worse and worse choices, including climbing up a tree and jumping into crocodile infested water.  Finally, thanks to the help of some friendly monkeys, you arrive home safe and sound.  All you need to do is apologize to the elephant, but remember, don’t startle him! 

I absolutely adored this wild ride of a book.  It reads aloud beautifully, though I’d practice a bit before using it with a group because the timing of the jokes is everything here.  Robinson’s writing has a great comedic feel, and the book design maximizes the humor with the page turns.  The pace is wild and almost run away, suiting the subject.  The book is one long running gag, which will delight young readers.

Reynolds’ art adds to the humor.  He manages to take sedate and even friendly animals and with one sneeze or jump turn them alarmingly grumpy.  This creates a zany energy in the art and the book as a whole.

This is a book to keep in your bag for when the kids get restless.  Pull it out with a grin and a flourish.  I’d also keep it in mind for an option when reading to older elementary children, since they will love the humor too.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Dial Books for Young Readers.