A new book from Freya Blackwood is always something to get excited about and her first wordless picture book is very special indeed.
In amongst the hustle and bustle of the city is an overgrown piece of land where trees and wildlife thrive. The boy, who lives in the lot next to it, loves to visit and pays special attention to the elephant - an animal that he sees within the trees. No matter the weather, the boy visits. And as the seasons change so does the elephant; thick green foliage changes to warming autumnal colours before the bare branches of a harsh winter appear.
All is splendid until the day the builders arrive. The land has been sold, the trees have been marked for felling and something new must take their place. Upset at the thought of losing his elephant, the boy has a plan. But will he be able to save his friend before it is too late…
With not a single word, The Boy and the Elephant tells the story of a young boy who has a very big secret. Sumptuous illustrations invite the reader in to a world where the optimism and hope of a child are strong and true. It is a beautiful story of love for the natural world, the dangers of progress and our ability to make changes.
The young boy in the story cuts quite a lonely figure with the adults at home busy with other things - working at a computer, looking after a baby. Even at school he leads a life of solitude, while others play he sits alone on the bench. His secret green haven is where he finds peace and comfort as he plays and reads amongst his forest friends.
His devastation at the thought of losing his retreat is heartbreaking, as are his own attempts to forcibly push and pull the trees to a new home. Thankfully, where there is a will there is a way and in the middle of the night the boy leads the animals, reminiscent of the Pied-Piper, to a new home where everyone can enjoy them.
With huge thanks to Harper Collins for the copy I received in exchange for an honest review.
Recommended for 3+.