STARRED REVIEW
September 09, 2014

A vast and fascinating life

By Sophie Strady, illustrated by Jean-Francois Martin
Review by

Quite appropriately, The Memory of an Elephant is a large picture book, measuring 11 by 14 inches. It’s a big, unusual book in every way, featuring not only a story about an old, distinguished elephant named Marcel, but a compendium of assorted facts about everything from musical instruments and classic modern furniture to a variety of gourmet desserts.

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Quite appropriately, The Memory of an Elephant is a large picture book, measuring 11 by 14 inches. It’s a big, unusual book in every way, featuring not only a story about an old, distinguished elephant named Marcel, but a compendium of assorted facts about everything from musical instruments and classic modern furniture to a variety of gourmet desserts.

That's because Marcel is writing “an enormous, illustrated encyclopedia―everything he’s learned throughout his long and exceptional life.” The book’s language and Marcel’s panache are reminiscent of the old-world style of Babar, although the books themselves are quite different.

When Marcel wakes up one morning, his monumental writing task is interrupted when he finds a mountain of presents waiting in his living room. It’s Marcel’s birthday, and quite the celebration is in store.

The Memory of an Elephant can be enjoyed on several different levels. Very young children will appreciate the story of Marcel’s big birthday bash. Fact-loving kids will devour the catalog-like pages filled with intriguing nuggets about Marcel’s passions, such as the world's tallest buildings, computer history, fashion facts, sailing history, plants and birds. There are plenty of fascinating elephant facts as well.

There’s even a recipe for “La Crepe Marcelette,” and young connoisseurs will learn some delicious definitions for things like crème caramel, brioche, dôme au chocolat and floating island. French author Sophie Strady and illustrator Jean-Franςois Martin have created a distinctive treat that’s certainly ripe for feasting.

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The Memory of an Elephant

The Memory of an Elephant

By Sophie Strady, illustrated by Jean-Francois Martin
Chronicle
ISBN 9781452129037

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