________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 11. . . .November 13, 2015


Why Would Elephants Rather Play Tag?

Silvina Rocha. Illustrated by Meyi. Translated by Silvana Goldenmberg.
Winnipeg, MB: Doubledutch Books, 2015.
32 pp., pbk., $12.95.
ISBN 978-0-9940570-6-8.

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 3-6.

Review by Meredith Cleversey.

***½ /4



Mouse closes his eyes and starts to count out loud.
The others race away to find a place to hide.

Bee chooses a matchbox. Can a bee fit inside a matchbox?
Cat climbs into the piano. Can a cat fit inside a piano?

Elephant thinks, and thinks, and thinks, and thinks.
Can an elephant fit inside a wardrobe?


Elephant, Cat, Mouse, and Bee are playing a game of hide and seek. But while Cat can hide in a piano, Bee can hide in a matchbox, and Mouse can hide in a kitchen drawer, Elephant has a lot of trouble finding a place to fit. Elephant is so big he cannot find hiding places like his friends, but being big and having a long trunk comes in handy when playing a game like tag instead!

     Why Would Elephants Rather Play Tag? is a lighthearted, engaging read well-suited for early readers. Short bouts of text on each page, coupled with audience-directed questions about whether each animal can fit in its proposed hiding places, pull readers in and encourage them to predict what will happen in the story next. This is a fairly short picture book, and its action-focussed plot will hold young readers’ attention.

      The illustrations by Meyi work well with the text of this story and are useful for helping readers guess what’s going to happen as the tale unfolds. Rich colours on plain white backgrounds draw the eye immediately, and humorous depictions of the friends’ hiding places—such as when Mouse hides in Cat’s mouth and lights a match so he can see, causing a stream of smoke to billow out of Cat’s mouth as he tries to find his own hiding spot—add a touch of quirk to the tale. The pictures also offer an interesting viewpoint to the story by showing both the hiding place each animal selects and the inside of the hiding place once the animal has selected it. Bee hides amongst the matches of the matchbox, and Cat curls up with the socks and shirts of a laundry basket. These pictures are not only amusing, but they also provide a unique perspective on Elephant’s struggles as his friends are seen squeezing into truly tight spaces.

      The way the pictures depict Elephant’s troubles and triumphs make the illustrations crucial to the readers’ understanding of Why Would Elephants Rather Play Tag? While readers are told Elephant’s too big to hide, they are more effectively shown Elephant’s size by the way he bursts through a wood wardrobe and struggles to find a suitable place to conceal himself. Likewise, at the end of the story, readers are told Elephant likes to play tag, but it’s the illustration that actually shows why, as he runs after Bee with his long trunk extended out before him. Especially for burgeoning independent readers, these descriptive illustrations are a wonderful, and necessary, addition to the story.

      With easy-to-read text and playful illustrations, Why Would Elephants Rather Play Tag? is an entertaining tale about finding the right fit, no matter your size.

Highly Recommended.

Meredith Cleversey is a librarian in Cambridge, ON. She loves to read, write, and live in a world of pure imagination.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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