Strictly No Elephants is one of our favorite picture books to begin a discussion about inclusiveness with young readers. Check it out!
Strictly No Elephants is a Brilliant Book to Begin Conversations About Inclusiveness
Strictly no Elephants, written by Lisa Mantchev and illustrated by Taeeyn Yoo, begins with a simple statement:
“The trouble with having a tiny elephant for a pet is that you never quite fit in.”
While most of us don’t actually have tiny elephants prancing around our homes (but how fun would that be?!), not fitting in is a sentiment we’ve all had at some point in our lives. And though it may pain us to say it out loud, so have our kids.
Feeling different. Out of place. Excluded.
Whether it’s the color of our hair, the color of our skin, the religion we practice, the cars we drive, the toys we play with, it’s a universal feeling.
And it’s one that is uncomfortable and, often times, heartbreaking.
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Strictly No Elephants Addresses Differences and Exclusion
Lisa Mantchev’s tender book, Strictly No Elephants, with illustrations by Taeeyn Yoo, so beautifully conveys the feeling of heartbreak — and then the feeling of hope.
In the story, a little boy knows his pet elephant is different. Yet the two are trusted friends, going on walks every day, helping each other over the cracks of life, and staying true to one another always.
One morning, the boy and his elephant wake up and are excited for their day’s activity. It’s Pet Club Day! Yet when they arrive at the home where the event is taking place, the boy and his elephant find a disturbing sight.
Hanging on the door is a crude sign that reads: Strictly No Elephants.
Kids with angry faces stare out the window from inside the house, waiting for the boy and his elepbant to turn around and walk away.
The two leave the home, dejected, and as they walk aimlessly, they discover another child who has also been turned away from the club with her pet skunk.
The girl doesn’t understand why she was excluded from the club either. After all, her skunk doesn’t even stink! But no one else has a pet skunk, just like no one else has a pet elephant.
It is in this moment of sadness and dejection that the two kids decide to make a club of their own. So they go to the park, draw up a sign, and open their gathering to all. While they seem to struggle finding the right words for their sign, they eventually settle on the perfect phrasing. It’s three simple words, and it’s perfect. What does it say?
“All are welcome.”
Whether you are coming with a dog or porcupine or giraffe or penguin or narwhal, the kids and their animals make sure everyone has a place at this new playground.
Strictly No Elephants and the Beauty of “All Are Welcome”
All are welcome.
Isn’t that a perfect message?
It’s why I love Strictly No Elephants so much. I love how it celebrates the magic that happens when children recognize differences are not something to shy away from. I love the way this book speaks so perfectly to our youngest readers by making a daunting topic feel safe. With Strictly No Elephants, the ideas of inclusion and exclusion become easy for our littlest kids to explore.
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Mantchev’s story is one I wish the whole world could embrace. It’s certainly one that all children should be read, again and again, because it conveys such a pertinent and timely theme.
This story, with its beautiful and expressive illustrations, conjures so much hope in me with every read. Because who wouldn’t want to climb up to a tree house where all types of people– and animals– can come together to play harmoniously?
Strictly No Elephants is a must for your child’s library or your classroom, and it is wholeheartedly awarded two trunks up from our team.