Book Review: Have You Seen Elephant? By David Barrow

cv_have_you_seen_elephantAvailable in bookshops nationwide.

I read lots of books to children; I teach 5- and 6-year-olds, so it’s a key (and favourite) part of the job. Not all picture books are created equal, and while most children will sit politely till the end of an average book, it takes something quite special to really engage children. When you look out from the page that you’re reading, and every set of eyes is wide open and intent, and every mouth is smiling, and even normally shy children are starting to jiggle because they want to share what they’re seeing but they don’t want to interrupt the story, you know you’re reading something special. Have You Seen Elephant? is one of the special books.

Gecko Press have done it again – they’ve introduced another fantastic children’s author/illustrator to the world, namely David Barrow. Have You Seen Elephant? is funny, whimsical and works on both an adult and child’s level. I read this story several times, to about 80 children in total. Not one child – and I’m not exaggerating here – lost interest while I read. Every child had a face that was lit up as they recognised what the story was about. It’s very gratifying being the reader of such a book!

If I haven’t already convinced you to buy Have You Seen Elephant? immediately, here’s the plot. A boy and an elephant decide to play hide and seek. “I must warn you though. I’m very good,” says Elephant, as he heads off to hide. And the boy cannot find him. Of course, the readers can, but that’s the joke. Children will laugh at Elephant’s attempts to hide; adults with laugh with the recognition of how, when playing with children, you can’t hide yourself too well or you’ll never get found. The introduction of an additional friend at the end, who is great at another game, is the cherry on top.

This is David Barrow’s first book, and he’s already a prize winner, winning the Sebastian Walker Award for most promising illustrator in 2015. The illustrations are gorgeous, a colourful, expressive mix of different techniques (the picture of Elephant with the TV is just brilliant and had the children laughing out loud). I’m sure there will be more awards to follow in Barrow’s career.

If you only buy one book for your children 6 and under this Christmas, buy this one. It will become a classic.

Reviewed by Rachel Moore

Have You Seen Elephant? 
by David Barrow
Published by Gecko Press
ISBN 9781776570089