Review Blog

Aug 28 2020

You can't call an elephant in an emergency by Patricia Cleveland-Peck

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Illus. by David Tazzyman. Bloomsbury, 2020. ISBN: 9781408880630.
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Filled with an array of situations where an emergency worker is called for, this book, the third in the series, after You Can't Take an Elephant on the Bus and You Can't Let an Elephant Drive a Digger, will have readers, children and adults alike laughing out loud. The most unlikely of rescue attempts are presented as an elephant takes on the role of a firefighter, a sloth becomes a traffic cop, a chimp is a paramedic and a panda takes the controls of a fire fighting plane. Children will readily see the incongruity of these animals in situations totally inappropriate for them. The contrast between the very important emergency service workers' abilities and those of the animals provides a wonderful way of teaching children the work these people do. And how appropriate that this book has been published now, when younger children are exposed regularly to images on television of people in masks and scrubs. A most opportune book to discuss with classes and at home, the illustrations will be pored over by readers.
Of course you do not have lemmings in a helicopter rescue team: those who drop the person being rescued are outdone by the others that leap from the helicopter overhead.  And the hen that thinks she'd make a good police officer is so timid that the robber has a smile on his face as he runs away.
Each double page has a four line rhyming stanza outlining the inabilities of that particular animal for the job at hand, supported by wonderfully vivid illustrations which will entice readers to look more closely at the events being pictured.
Patricia Cleveland-Peck has published fourteen children's books as well as adult books and plays. She returned to the world of children's books with the bestselling You Can't Take an Elephant on the Bus and You Can't Let an Elephant Drive a Digger which, together, have sold over 200,000 copies. David Tazzyman is the bestselling illustrator of the Mr Gum books, which have won a multitude of awards, including the Roald Dahl Funny Prize. David studied illustration at Manchester Metropolitan University. The elephant books are just two of his books published by Bloomsbury.
Fran Knight

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