• In The Shadow Of An Elephant

    First impressions count. They are (for me) seldom wrong. However, like a painting on the wall, a second, closer look can often enhance if not alter those first gut reactions. Closer inspection often reveals hitherto unseen beauties secreted among shadows laden with meaning. This is precisely why I adore picture books.

    My first impression of Georgie Donaghey’s, In the Shadow of an Elephant was that it was an immense story; a picture book attempting to embrace a life story as boundless as the African Savannah, just as brutal and beautiful. Even the magnificent front cover of Lualani the elephant required a full cover wrap to encompass her complete gorgeous form.

    Then I took the book home and read it quietly. I read it aloud to my teen daughter. I read it again, alone. Each reading became more and more emotional as the fullness of the story swept over me and somehow the largeness of this tale found a perfect fit within its picture book confines, and within my heart.

    Lualani is an adorable baby elephant who enjoys her baby elephant life with her herd and her ever-present mumma until one terrible night when her world rips apart following a merciless poachers’ attack. Alone and bereft, she is taken in by Jabari and his Papa who coax Lualani into loving life again, teaching her ‘how to be an elephant.’

    Together they grow, sing and dance and again, morn after Jabari’s papa dies. And, just as elephants are wont to do, Lualani returns Jabari’s love with patience and understanding, salving his grief and cherishing every moment of their time together; ‘dancing in each other’s shadows’ until life’s curtains draw close.

    In the Shadow of an Elephant is a sweeping tale, an epic story of beginnings and endings, of love and the unrelenting qualities of the cycle of life. Donaghey’s lyrical prose is charged with emotion yet is never excessive or cloying. It tells Lualani’s life story with just the right amount of colour and sentiment. It is because we can relate to the feelings of loss and grief that each cleverly chosen word becomes so emotionally amplified, giving us a fuller sense of the depth of friendship Lualani and Jabari share.

    The other notable thing of greatness this book possesses is the artwork. Sandra Svergnini’s pencil lined drawings are exquisite, pulsing with life and texture. The limited colour palette against greyscale drawings works a treat, highlighting the significant parts of each illustration without ever compromising focus. Patterned page bands simultaneously reflect these highlights and the colours of the Savannah.

    There is so much heart in each of Lualani’s facial expressions that you cannot fail to feel her agonising despair, her soaring joy. This story is a true marriage of words and pictures that works to elicit compassion, empathy and thankfulness.

    Despite its magnitude or perhaps because of it, In The Shadow of an Elephant is delivered with great grace and gentleness making it an obvious classroom go-to to aid discussions about animal welfare, namely the problem of poaching in Africa as well as friendship, animal human bonds and finding the light in the darkest moments of despair. If I had to offer one suggestion to enhance this book, it would be to increase its hardback format to a greater size to match the story’s undeniable presence.

    Highly recommended for middle primary readers and lovers of elephants.

    See the original review and visit Dimity Powell's blog

    Dimity Powell's website: www.dimitypowell.com

     

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  • Clover's Big Ideas

    Clover is small, and her Mumma wants her to stay put and be safe. But Clover is a curious little lamb, and she wants the other lambs to see that being small doesn’t mean she can’t do big things.

    The other lambs ignore poor Clover and dismiss her for her size, but when they get into trouble with the bull in the next paddock, it's little Clover who comes to their rescue with her big and brilliant ideas.

    This is a heart-warming picture book that shows kids that being small — being different — doesn’t mean you can’t achieve your dreams.

    Clover is such a gorgeous character, and her emotional journey throughout the book is both touching and powerful. Over the course of the story, Clover is happy, curious, intimidated, sad, lonely, brave, daring and kind. Georgie Donaghey's words bring her to life on the page, making you wish she was a real little lamb you could meet (and maybe learn from). With stunning illustrations by Emma Middleton, this is a picture book you'll want to take your time to explore. The gorgeous colour palette and exquisite details fill every page, and there’s a cheeky little mouse for kids to spot throughout the story. Many children will relate to little Clover and her challenges in life, so I dare say this story will inspire them to reach for the stars, which is a beautiful and amazing gift.

     

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  • Lulu

    Meet Lulu.

    Lulu is a gorgeous little polar bear who loves to sing and dance. But dancing on ice and pirouetting on snow just can’t compare with the call of the show. Lulu dreams of more. She dreams of performing on a real stage.

    Despite her friends’ discouragement, Lulu follows her dreams and sails to the city in search of excitement and the theatre. Very soon she becomes an accomplished entertainer; performing to princesses, princes and queens with their kings.

    But as much as she loves the stage, the city and the lights, Lulu soon realises there is nothing more satisfying than being with her friends back on the ice.

    Little girls everywhere will fall in love with this talented polar bear. I can already see Lulu plush toys in demand!

    I take great delight in the fact that Lulu is not deterred or dismayed by her friends’ discouragement. With the wonderful message of encouraging children to chase their dreams, despite obstacles and adversaries, the story also highlights the importance of friendship and love above all.

    Lulu is an endearing story written by Georgie Donaghey. The cantering metered rhyme makes for a fun and enjoyable read-aloud story. Ann-Marie Finn’s illustrations, with her clever choice of colour, are simply adorable.

    A charming story to delight children again and again.

    Original Review: www.kids-bookreview.com/2015/06/review-lulu

     

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  • In The Shadow Of An Elephant

    Lualani is a baby elephant that lives with her family on the African plains. 

    At night she sleeps cuddled into her mother. During the day she stands in her mother’s shadow as protection from the burning sun.

    It is night when the sharp sounds split the calm and force the herd to scatter. Lualani is left alone.  

    She is found by the boy Jabari and his father, and taken to a place of safety to be fed and cared for. But Lualani longs for her mother until she realizes Mumma won’t be coming back.

    Trust is built and a strong bond is formed between the elephant and the two humans. Their shadows become one until a tragedy occurs and the tables are turned. Now Lualani is the comforter, and the boy the broken-hearted.

    When time and space separate the two friends, they both know that they will be reunited again at some future stage.

    This is a delicate story, beautifully told about the hunt and slaughter of African elephants by poachers. This central theme is revealed in a non-confronting way through subtle allusion.

    The  secondary theme of the strong friendship between animal and Man is the maintaining wall built around the poaching reference, as is the fragility of life, and the protection of wildlife.

    Sandra Servergnini’s exquisite illustrations in pencil and watercolour sit as light as air on the page in cohesion with the gentle tone of the text.  Her portrayal of the separation of mother and baby projected on a dark background effectively relays the devastation felt by the two elephants. Decorative African trim at the bottom of selected pages adds that something extra. These same colours are the only ones used in all the illustrations. The rest is grey against white. The fly pages reflect intimate images replicated from inside the book of Lualani and Jabari together.

    Original Review: www.kids-bookreview.com/2019/08/review-in-shadow-of-elephant

     

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