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The Elephant's Ball    illustrated by Pauline Baynes order for
Elephant's Ball
by Pauline Baynes
Order:  USA  Can
Eerdmans, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Daninhirsch

The Elephant's Ball is a two hundred year-old children's story, written in verse, about a group of animals who decide to have a party to rival the festivities that some animals of the air have already had. The original author is unknown. In the story, the elephant attempts to organize the jungle animals for a party, with the caution that all of the attendees must forget their differences. What follows is a cornucopia of delights, a feast for all beasts.

While the story of animals having a celebration is timeless, I think the old-fashioned language would make it tough for younger children to understand; perhaps middle grade readers would have an easier time deciphering the story. I confess that I even found the book somewhat challenging to follow, although the language is charmingly preserved. The glossary at the end of the book is helpful, explaining that a pard is a leopard, aurora means morning, and viands refers to meats.

Here's an example:

'The Elephant, stately, majestic, and tall,
With Cousin Rhinoceros open'd the ball.
With dignified mien the two partners advanc'd,
And the De la Cour minuet gracefully danc'd.
The Lion and Uniocorn, beasts of great fame,
With much admiration accomplish’d the same.

The illustrations are lively and colorful with an old-fashioned twist. The Elephant's Ball is a book that will undoubtedly lead to new discoveries each time it is read.

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