CM . . .
. Volume IX Number 13 . . . . February 28, 2003
Since 1998, preschoolers and early readers have been able to meet Elliot Moose and his fellow stuffed animal friends via seven separate picture book adventures, such as Elliot’s Emergency and Elliot Bakes a Cake. Now, the younger set cannot only hear/read a brief Elliot story, but they can manipulate parts of the book as they learn or reinforce some concepts that adults or older siblings around them may have been trying to teach them. With the exception of the first spread, each of the book’s five double page spreads focuses on one concept. In the opening spread, youngsters are simply invited to lift flaps to find Elliot’s friends who, it turns out, are hiding in a box, a cupboard, a tent and in a basket, behind a pillow and a book, as well as beneath a chair. Not all flaps hide a friend, and opening a jigsaw puzzle box yields the message “Look somewhere else!” As the friends engage in the task of painting in the second spread, “readers” are invited to name the colours that are found inside jars, boxes and pitchers as well as beneath a cloth for wiping up paint spills. More demanding is the third spread which requires children to “Find the opposites!” as they lift up tabs to discover the opposites to: short, in, big, awake, right side up, off, short, same, tidy, closed, full, many, clean, happy, up and full. The penultimate spread deals with eight shapes: oval, circle, rectangle, diamond, triangle, square, heart, star and square. Finally, the children get to count from one to ten as, concealed beneath the numbered flaps, are the appropriate number of objects. The underside of each flap in the book also names what has been hidden. Though the children may initially focus on manipulating the flaps, rereadings will reveal that Elliot and his friends are constructing something, the “what” finally being revealed in the last spread.
Young fingers will likely need adult assistance the first time flaps are lifted, both because the flaps are initially “tight” and also because they do not all open from the same side. This most imaginative book is a natural gift book for young children as well as a title to be included in collections serving preschoolers.
Dave Jenkinson teaches courses in children’s and young adult literature at the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.
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