Written and Illustrated by Nicola Smee
BridgeWater Books, 1994
Lizzie’s favorite toy was her knitted elephant.
Recommended by: Jenn (Texas)
Who is Jenn? I’m a book addict, writer and all around nerd. My kids are book addicts as well which makes me the proudest mom ever.
How did you discover this book? I randomly picked it up in a bookstore or library.
What do you like about it? Lizzie’s favorite companion is the grey elephant her grandmother crocheted for her when she was born. Over the years, however, elephant gets worn and one day the unthinkable happens: he falls apart. This is such a sweet book and one of my daughter’s favorites. Lizzie’s love for her elephant comes through on every page, and her grandmother’s love for Lizzie. It’s about the extraordinary things we do for those we love.
The plot in a nutshell: A girl tries to preserve her beloved elephant
Lizzie’s grandmother gave her the homemade elephant on the day she was born and it is always with her. As she gets older, Elephant starts to show some wear. Lizzie uses clothes from other toys to hold him together. One day, as Lizzie is pulling her toys in a wagon, his ear catches on a thorn and he completely unravels, leaving only two tusks. Lizzie is brokenhearted, but she puts the tusks under her pillow, as her Grandma suggests. It takes her a while, but she finally falls asleep and doesn’t hear Grandma’s knitting needles clicking. The next morning, Lizzie wakes Grandma with the news that the Tusk Fairy has come. Grandma is tired, but happy. And Lizzie’s other toys are happy to be getting their clothes back.
Author/illustrator Nicola Smee has written and/or illustrated many books since her first book was published in 1985. In this book, she calls up the familiar theme of the much-loved toy that’s falling apart (quite literally, in this case) but she adds a lovely wrinkle by showing us how Lizzie’s grandmother is really the one saving the day. There’s even a really cute twist at the end, when we see that Grandma ran out of grey yarn and the new elephant’s trunk ends in a stripe of green.
Ms. Smee keeps the story text at a minimum, letting the pictures tell us more about the characters and the story. The artwork is done in soft colors, but features wonderful details, particularly in the expressiveness of Lizzie’s toys. Throughout the book, they react to the things happening around them, which makes it even more satisfying when they get their missing clothes back and can genuinely be happy for the arrival of new and improved elephant.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that when someone loves you, nothing is beyond hope.