Tuesday, August 18, 2009

REVIEW: The Big Elephant In the Room

Smith, L.  (2009).  The Big Elephant in the Room.  New York:  Hyperion.


With Smith's usual quirky sense of humor, a young donkey is told by his friend that they need to discuss the big elephant in the room.  The donkey then makes an *ahem* posterior *ahem* of himself by listing all of the things he did to embarrass or hurt his friend.

In The Big Elephant in the Room, Smith's artwork is up to his usual standard with subtle jokes incorporated into the details of some of the illustrations.  The fact that all of the children are represented by animals (as is often the case in Smith's illustrations) does call into question whether it will be metaphorical or literal elephants from the beginning.  Nonetheless, even if a reader knows where the story goes, watching the donkey pull his hoof deeper and deeper into his mouth is still amusing.


A teacher could begin by discussing the meaning of the phrase "the elephant in the room."  From there, a teacher could ask students to reflect on whether they ever remained silent about a big issue or problem when people they could talk about it with are present.

To go a lighter route, students can make guesses over what they think the big elephant in the room could be.

A fun read, a teacher could also briefly discuss the humor in misinterpretation and the difficulty of language and meaning, and the literal and metaphorical.  Chances are good, that teacher will just get some blank stares.  But that's always fun.

Quotes of Note:

"Can we talk about the big elephant in the room?"

"Yes!  I forced down that creamy, nutty, crunchy ice cream...to save your life!"

"Is THE BIG ELEPHANT your video game?  I was going to return that!  Eventually."

"Is THE GIB ELEPHANT that I told Haley you laughed so hard you peed your pants?"

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