BooksforTopics Reading for Pleasure Recommendations
Book Title: Humperdink Our Elephant Friend (available here)
Author: Sean Taylor
Illustrator: Claire Alexander
Publisher: Words & Pictures
Publication Date: May 2019
Most Suitable for: EYFS/KS1
Reviewed By: Nia Talbot, Assistant headteacher and EYFS teacher
Humperdink Our Elephant Friend is a story about an elephant joining a class of children at a playgroup.
It’s clear to see that the elephant wants to be friends, as this story is essentially a book about friendship, but soon it is apparent that elephants do not play like children and it causes the class to become annoyed or upset at Humperdink. The story shifts to one of acceptance of others and the need to explore individuality through play. This is such an important message to explore with children and one that we talk about a lot in Foundation Stage. Claire Alexander's illustrations remind me of the style of pictures in books that I read as a child which, for me, reinforced the focus on childhood in this story.
But, as with all children’s books, the real testament to the quality of a story is how children react to and interact with it, so I shared Humperdink Our Elephant Friend with my class of 4 and 5 year olds. The children had a range of favourite sections, such as the part where the children joined Humperdink in elephant stomping, the sense of danger when they venture outside, the way in which Humperdink protects the children and, of course, the ending (which I won’t give away!). The story also prompted the children to be inquisitive about different aspects of the plot. My favourite question had to be: ‘but how did the elephant get through the door? He’s too big’ - followed by lots of discussion!
The messages that are explored in the book were really clear to the children and they were able to understand the themes of friendship, which prompted further conversations about the values they hold in this area. However, I think that the greatest testament was the audible sound of disappointment that the story had finished.
There are so many different levels and aspects to explore with the children when reading this book. Sean Taylor has done a fantastic job.
Many thanks to the publisher for sending us a review copy of this book and to Review Panel member Nia for reviewing it.