From the very beginning, the energy of Kevin Henkes’ A Parade of Elephants is infectious as readers turn the page to see a parade of pastel-colored elephants. There are five, to be exact, but on this first full spread, they are laid out in five rows in which we see them incrementally (one in one row, two in the next, and so on).
For the most part, the elephants march from left to right on an uncluttered, squiggly-lined landscape, trimmed with heavy-lined borders that often form a stripe on top of the purple pages. But, delightfully, Henkes mixes up the compositions. Sometimes, for instance, there is a stripe of purple at the top with the elephants jubilantly marching below, and sometimes all the borders fall away while the elephants determinedly march on.
As we follow their march, Henkes sprinkles the text with prepositions for those children still learning the ways of grammar. Up, down, over, under, in and out march the single-minded elephants. In a moment of creative wordplay, we read that they are “big and round and round they go.” The short phrases and short sentences are laid out in a large, bold font. Closing with a happy surprise as it does—when they tire, the elephants scatter stars in the sky via their long, upturned trunks—young readers won’t want to see this story end.
Engaging, entertaining, and educational, A Parade of Elephants is one to trumpet about.