Susanna Leonard Hill has a feature on her blog called Perfect Picture Book Friday. It is a list of “perfect” picture books recommended by all sorts of people. I chose this book because it is a very cool and somewhat odd book. 😉
The Memory of an Elephant: An Unforgettable Journey
by Sophie Strady
Illustrated by Jean-Francois Martin
38 pages – ages 5+
Published by Chronicle Books on September 9, 2014
Opening and Synopsis-
Opening – “Marcel is an elephant – a very old elephant. Like all elephants, his skin is gray and wrinkled, so it is difficult to tell his exact age.”
Synopsis – (publisher’s description) Memory and meaning are at the heart of this oversized, content-rich picture book celebrating the life of Marcel, a soulful elephant. From the towering buildings outside his window and his recollected world travels, to the friends, flora, and fauna that flourish around him, Marcel finds significance in his surroundings and, most importantly, in life’s abundant details. Marcel is writing an encyclopedia, after all, and his entries are featured in full-page spreads packed with facts, elegantly situated alongside the story of his day and his life. Part story and part miscellany, this unforgettable book with dream-like illustrations will transfix both parents and children.
Why I liked this book- This book is very unique. I had a hard time thinking of the theme and genre – it’s a pretty odd book (but I like odd 😉 ). Even the size of the book is odd – it’s a large 10×14 – but Marcel is a very large elephant so I guess that makes sense. There is a fictional story in the book – the story of Marcel and his memories, but there is also a ton of facts about everything you can think of (Marcel is writing an encyclopedia). Take a look at what I mean:
The story of Marcel is nice. He thinks about his life and the things in it and what he’s experienced. We get to meet some of his friends. It’s a nice story by itself but when you put it together with the awesome illustrations and all the fact information packed into the book, I think the book is just super cool. The publisher rates the book for kids 5+. Kids that young probably wouldn’t be able to read the book independently, but this book would make an awesome read aloud. It is the kind of picture book I would have loved when I was little. I always loved books with lots of fact boxes and tons of stuff I could look at. This isn’t a “normal” picture book, but if you are looking for something a little unique – I recommend this one!
Activities and Resources-
I didn’t have to go far for activities. There is a bunch right in the back of the book. There are 2 pages of information on Marcel’s friends who happen to be endangered species. You can use the thumbnail pictures as a look and find in the book for all the endangered animals. There is an “encyclopedia” section on Marcel’s favorite foods, and his furniture. There is also a recipe for “La Crèpe Marcelette” (which I need to try)!
The International Fund for Animal Welfare has a bunch of lesson plans, videos and information in a section called “Elephants, Never Forget.” Click HERE to go to it.
To find more Perfect Picture Books please visit Susanna Hill’s blog HERE!