STARRED REVIEW
November 2015

A club for misfit pets

By Lisa Mantchev, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo
Review by
What do you do when your pet is a tiny elephant and you “never quite fit in”? You find your people, that’s what you do.
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What do you do when your pet is a tiny elephant and you “never quite fit in”? You find your people, that’s what you do. 

This is the struggle faced by the boy in this loving, affirming debut picture book from YA author Lisa Mantchev. The boy and his elephant are inseparable, and their friendship is a thoughtful one: The elephant holds an umbrella over the boy’s head on a rainy walk, and the boy carries the elephant over scary sidewalk cracks. “That’s what friends do,” after all. But when they head to Pet Club Day in the boy’s neighborhood, the sign on the door says, “STRICTLY NO ELEPHANTS.”

After the boy leaves, he meets a girl with a pet skunk. “The sign didn’t mention skunks,” she tells him, “but they don’t want us to play with them either.” The two start their own club, because friends don’t leave anyone behind. A group of children with unconventional pets follow the boy and his new friend to a treehouse club where they paint a sign: “ALL ARE WELCOME.” The boy’s tiny elephant will even give directions to any fellow misfits who need them. Now that’s hospitality. 

In her linoleum block prints, illustrator Taeeun Yoo brings it all to life with great warmth and a delightful cast of creatures, from a narwhal in a small fishbowl to a penguin on a leash. 

Misfits unite—and stand up for each other. That’s what friends do. 

 

Julie Danielson features authors and illustrators at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, a children’s literature blog.

This article was originally published in the November 2015 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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Strictly No Elephants

Strictly No Elephants

By Lisa Mantchev, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo
Paula Wiseman
ISBN 9781481416474

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