A Parade of Elephants

Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
A Parade of Elephants Book Poster Image
Sweet, cozy counting book teaches basic preschool concepts.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

A herd of elephants is also called a "parade" of elephants. Numbers one to five. Concepts up/down, over/under, in/out. Double meanings of the words "round" and "done." Colors pink, green, yellow, blue.

Positive Messages

The littlest elephant is always included. Implicit message that counting to five is manageable, as are concepts up/down, over/under, and in/out. It's good to rest and sleep after a full day.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The herd of elephants travels and sticks together. A big elephant leads the way for the herd and the little one. They always include the little one. They march tirelessly during the day and rest at night.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that A Parade of Elephants is by the ever-popular Kevin Henkes, who's amassed a trophy case full of awards, including the Caldecott Medal for Kitten's First Full Moon. It features five pastel-colored elephants on the march and teaches the numbers one through five, plus the concepts up/down, over/under, and in/out. This book works beautifully for the toddler and preschool set, and since it closes with the elephants falling asleep, it can be your go-to goodnight book.

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What's the story?

In A PARADE OF ELEPHANTS, five elephants (count 'em) march up and down, over and under, in and out. "Big and round and round they are. Big and round and round they go. ... And when the day is done, they are done, too." The elephants trumpet, scattering stars across the night sky, and cozy up together to sleep.

Is it any good?

Who doesn't love a parade of pastel-colored elephants that look tastily candy-colored and serve up a series of palatable lessons about basic preschool concepts? In A Parade of Elephants, author-illustrator Kevin Henkes showcases his knack for breaking a book idea into its simplest components so that it's both fun and accessible for the very young. The lessons are clear. The page that counts the five elephants separates each grouping of pachyderms into its own line in a numbered grid, so kids can easily point and count, practicing the one-to-one correspondence. He also easily weaves in the concepts of up/down, over/under, and in/out.

Henkes even manages to add wordplay to his spare and simple text, toying with the double meanings of the words "round" and "done." And he sneaks in an elevated literary flourish at the end when the elephants lift their trunks to trumpet, "scattering stars across the sky."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the elephants in A Parade of Elephants. What colors are they? Can you count them?

  • Why do you think the littlest elephant is always at the rear? Does that littlest elephant manage to trumpet some stars with the others? Do you ever feel like the littlest, last one in your family?

  • What do you think it means when it says the elephants are "done" when "the day is done"? Do you get sleepy after a busy day?

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