#WorldKidLit Wednesday: Elephant Island

Elephants are not generally considered to be seafaring animals although they do come with built-in snorkels.

When Arnold the elephant’s boat sinks, his snorkel proves very useful. He ends up on a tiny island, which, hilariously, is no larger than one of his legs. Some might despair at this situation; not so Arnold! His snorkel also doubles as a trumpet, and he is soon sounding the alarm.

Entertainment abounds in this picture book by Belgian author/illustrator Leo Timmers. Readers both large and small will no doubt chuckle as Arnold accidentally sinks two small boats that come to his rescue. They will likely marvel at Arnold’s ingenuity as he uses the salvaged material to expand his tiny island. And they may even wish to be among the flotilla of boats heading to Elephant Island to join Arnold and his fun-loving friends. Will the fun last though? Life at sea can be notoriously unpredictable . . .

Leo Timmers’ illustrations are superb, ranging from moody ocean scenes to carefully observed vignettes and brightly colored crazy constructions. I could spend hours poring over the detail of Elephant Island’s various transformations. The text is buoyant and short, with 1-2 sentences on each page/spread, making this book a great choice for a read-aloud with young children.

If you’re looking for a book that will put a big smile on your face, steer a course for Elephant Island. It’s a wonderful place to be!

Elephant Island
Written and illustrated by Leo Timmers
Translated from Dutch by Bill Nagelkerke
Adapted by James Brown

Published by Gecko Press, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-77657-434-6

Reviews: Publishers Weekly, Reading Time, Seattle Book Review

Watch Leo Timmers talk about creating the illustrations for Elephant Island:

You can buy a copy of Elephant Island here* or find it in a library.

*Book purchases made via our affiliate link may earn GLLI a small commission at no cost to you.

Laura Taylor is the founder of world children’s literature blog Planet Picture Book. She is a small business copywriter, NAATI-certified translator of French into English and member of AUSIT. When she is not writing, she is reading, and chasing after her two young children. She tweets @plapibo and posts at www.planetpicturebook.com

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