Thursday, August 20, 2015
Review: Elephant in the Dark
Retelling by: Mina Javaherbin
Illustrator: Eugene Yelchin
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Review copy: ARC from publisher
Availability: August 25, 2015
Summary: A bold, humorous rendition of "The Three Blind Men and the Elephant", magnificently illustrated by an award-winning artist!
When the villagers hear of a huge and mysterious creature that has come all the way from India, they steal into the dark barn to find out what it is.
"It's like a snake!" says one.
"It's like a tree trunk," says another.
"No, it's like a fan!" argues the third.
Who is right? Which of them knows the creature's true shape?
Mina Javaherbin's charming and witty retelling combined with Eugene Yelchin's refreshingly brilliant illustrations bring this enlightened classic, inspired by Rumi's poem, vividly to life.
Review: Many people are familiar with the story of the Blind Men and the Elephant. This is a fun new way to experience that tale. Mina Javaherbin has retold the story based on a poem written by Rumi about 750 years ago. The message is timeless and will have readers chuckling too.
The first thing I noticed about the book was the rich illustrations. To see several samples, visit Eugene Yelchin's page here. Yelchin used a wide variety of patterns and textures in each spread. There are so many things to see. I found the many different textures to be fascinating. There are also pages that are simple and streamlined. When the text focuses on one aspect of the elephant, the illustrations are narrowed in to that one thing and the background is plain. There are no distractions on those pages.
In the illustrator's note at the end Yelchin explained that he got his inspiration from Persian miniature painters. His own style is there, but the illustrations are clearly influenced by Persian art work from years past.
In their notes at the end, both the artist and writer speak of the meaning of this story and how it relates to their own lives. That is the best part about this story. It can speak a truth to readers of all kinds. This book will be one many people can easily connect with and share. Teachers could also use it effectively during fable units or when discussing point of view.
Elephant in the Dark is an upbeat and fun way to discuss different perspectives and points of view. I look forward to sharing it with staff and students.