Written and Illustrated by David Barrow
Gecko Press, 2015
Would you like to play hide and seek?
The plot in a nutshell: An elephant is surprisingly good at hide and seek.
The elephant warns the boy that he’s very good at hide and seek and the game begins. The boy covers his eyes and counts to ten as the elephant walks away to hide. As the boy wanders through the house, we see the elephant hiding behind curtains, under the bedspread, behind the television, under a lampshade, in the outdoor shed and behind a tree, but the boy never sees him. When he gives up, the elephant is right behind him. Then they are joined by a turtle who proposes a game of tag and warns them that he is very good at it.
Author/illustrator David Barrow puts a new spin on the phrase, ‘the elephant in the room.’ Usually, that means there’s something big that everyone notices and doesn’t want to talk about. Here, it’s just the opposite, with a big elephant successfully able to hide pretty much in plain sight. It’s a comical idea and there’s certainly a moment or two when I wondered if everyone was just humoring the elephant and pretending not to see him to bolster his confidence in his belief that he’s really good at hide and seek. Actually, there are a few different interpretations of the story that readers could go with, which always impresses me, because it means the author respected his audience enough to leave some thinking room.
The illustrations are colorful and playful, with indications of textures and patterns that give the characters and their surroundings a lot of personality. The endpapers feature a gallery of images of the main character’s family and in these pictures, we see that his family is biracial. This made me wonder if Mr. Barrow was making a statement here, saying that being a mixed race family was actually the ‘elephant in the room’ and that it is something noticed by other people but not by the family themselves, making the ‘elephant’ impossible to see for them. Whatever you take away from this one, it’s a good read with a silly factor that I think kids will really enjoy.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that everyone has hidden talents and the ability to be more than they seem.