Elephant Island


Product Details

$18.99  $17.66
Gecko Press
Publish Date
8.4 X 11.3 X 0.4 inches | 1.0 pounds

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About the Author

Leo Timmers is one of Belgium's preeminent picture book authors, with a large and loyal following, whose Monkey on the Run was a New York Times / New York Public Library Best Illustrated Picture Book.


A shipwreck is usually a disaster, but Arnold is a resourceful elephant calf, with a built-in snorkel-slash-horn. He makes it safely to an island the size of his feet and signals for help. The one impediment to his rescue? He's not quite aware of his size. This light-tension, winking tale of a makeshift homecoming is sure to delight audiences at story time. Its mixed-media illustrations evoke stop-motion films; the animals' stiff, bewildered looks are humorous, and the colors and clever details are electrifying.

-- (1/25/2022 12:00:00 AM)

Elephant Island. By Leo Timmers. Illus. by the author. Tr. by James Brown Mar. 2022. 40p. Gecko, $18.99 (9781776574346). PreS-Gr. 2

After a boisterous wave sinks his boat, Arnold the seafaring elephant swims for hours before climbing onto a tiny island. A mouse rows by and offers him a ride, but when Arnold steps aboard, the rowboat shatters. They use the wood to build a structure extending the minute island. Increasingly larger boats come to their rescue, break apart, and add to the ramshackle scaffolding and platforms, making space for a large crowd of creatures who join in the nightly singing and dancing. Even after "the sea lost its temper," smashing Arnold's strangely uplifting construction, the elephant uses the debris to build another fantastic structure, full of animal friends who enjoy the ongoing celebrations. Timmers, a Belgian writer-illustrator, creates a likable main character with a creative imagination and engineering skills. From the image of the solitary, stranded elephant quoting the ancient mariner, "Alone, alone, all, all alone. Alone on a wide wide sea," to the scenes depicting his joyous community at the story's end, the tender yet dynamic verbal and visual narrative never falters in this engaging picture book.

-- (3/1/2022 12:00:00 AM)

"When a 'boisterous wave' sinks Arnold the elephant's boat--the stormy sea is rendered in almost palpably rough dark brushstrokes--he's stranded on a tiny rock barely the size of his foot. But though several seafaring animals offer to rescue him, each boat is swamped as soon as the pachyderm steps aboard. No matter: like Timmers (Monkey on the Run), Arnold proves a gifted and deeply silly engineer. Salvaging the wreckage, the elephant rigs up an increasingly elaborate, improbable structure atop the diminutive rock, transforming it into a multilevel affair on which the group dances under a starry blue sky and 'all night long sang whale songs.' As is true for any trend-setting spot, 'Soon everyone was setting course for Elephant Island, ' with each new animal deliberately contributing its respective vessel to create a towering attraction--complete with a waffle maker--that's portrayed with subtle sculptural dimensionality. When a second squall gives everyone the chance to head home, the group demurs; it's a picture book tribute to the power of collective, constructive play, and to heeding the call of freedom."--Publishers Weekly

-- (1/18/2021 12:00:00 AM)