"The trouble with having a tiny elephant for a pet is that you never quite fit in."
So maybe we don't actually have tiny elephants prancing around our homes, but 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. Being 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.
Lisa Mantchev's tender book, Strictly No Elephants, with illustrations by Taeeyn Yoo, so beautifully conveys this feeling. In the story, a little boy and his pet elephant are banned from the local Pet Club Day via a crude sign hanging on the door: Strictly No Elephants. When the boy meets another child who has also been turned away from the club with her pet skunk, the two decide to make a club of their own. So they go to the park, draw up a sign, and open their gathering to all, inviting everyone -- no matter if they bring dogs or porcupines or giraffes or penguins -- via the most beautiful sign. What does it say? Three simple words: "All are welcome."
All are welcome. Isn't that a perfect message? It's why I love Strictly No Elephants so much- how it celebrates the magic that happens when children recognize that differences are not something to shy away from. Mantchev's story is one I wish the whole world could embrace right now. 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? This is a must for your child's library or your classroom- and it is wholeheartedly awarded two trunks up from our team.
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Want the book? Get it here! Strictly No Elephants, by Lisa Mantchev. *This is an affiliate link.