Kids’ Book Review: Review: Elephant Island


Arnold loves the sea, as his ancient ancestors reportedly
did. He spends much of his time seafaring, viewing the sea as his friend. 

Until
one day, his friend grows wild and unfriendly and Arnold’s boat is sunk.

Thanks to providence and an inbuilt snorkel, Arnold
encounters a tiny island on which he takes refuge, all alone in the wide,
wide sea. 

From his tiny island, he launches an SOS attempt. And waits, content
to explore his island until help arrives. Miraculously, it does in the shape a small
ship, a mouseboat. Salvation!

But no. The disparity in size and enthusiasm result in
disaster. Luckily Arnold, being a resourceful mariner type, applies his vast
knowledge of knots and such sea-like things to salvaging the situation and by this,
I mean, adding an extension to accommodate him and his new friend on his tiny island.

Days drift by as do a squadron of other seagoing
folk including an old sea dog, a fishing boat, a cargo ship and a steam
paddleboat to name but a few. All steering a course for Elephant Island where
the architecture and joie de vivre are reputedly phenomenal. Before long, the island
is transformed into a jolly, multilayered, carnival-esque place-to-be.

But Arnold’s erstwhile friend, the sea, once again
arcs up in anger, ostensibly against him having so much fun with his newfound friends.
Wild winds and dark skies soon dismantle the island sanctuary leaving his mates
adrift and Arnold forlorn. Perhaps it is time to go home once and for all?

This translation of the original Leo Timmers text, Het
eiland van Olifant
, is a splendid exploration of stoicism, friendship and
creative initiative cloaked in a wickedly witty wonderful nautical tale. Arnold
is the epitome of stalwart tenacity. He is accommodating and ingenious, sincere
and fun loving, characteristics that any enterprising youngster can immediately
warm to.

Notions of never giving up and patience are playfully
disguised in joyous palettes awash with bright primary colours against a memorising
sea of greens and teals, except of course when the sea is angry. I especially
took heart in Arnold’s expressions of resignation, bliss and undiluted
innocence. I mean who wouldn’t want to build a treehouse on a pebble of an
island and invite their menagerie of mates to frolic them within?

Experience the simple joy of it all in this sublime encounter
and discover for yourself the true silver lining to be found in any cloud of adversity
or … shipwreck. Pure magic.


Title:
Elephant Island
Author Illustrator: Leo Timmers
Translator: James Brown
Publisher: Gecko Press (Walker Books), $27.99
Publication Date: September 2022
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781776574346
For ages: 4 – 7
Type: Picture Book



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