Oy, Elephants!


Children - Picture Book
38 Pages
Reviewed on 01/27/2018
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Deborah Stevenson’s lifelong love of animals and writing have frequently intersected over the years, resulting in numerous magazine and website articles and, more recently, children’s books. Deb shared her love of reading with her son, and it was always a desire of hers to write a book that parents could enjoy with their children. She realized that dream in 2016 with her first children’s book, Soaring Soren: When French Bulldogs Fly, which won a 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Award for best Children’s Non-Fiction book and a Silver Medal Readers' Favorite Award. The inspiring, true story about her determined, little French Bulldog, who defied the odds to become a champion in the athletic sport of Agility, is available wherever books are sold. For more information, visit: www.frogprincebooks.net

    Book Review

Reviewed by Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers' Favorite

There is so much to like about Oy, Elephants! by Deborah Stevenson and Morgan Spicer. Begin with the book’s concept. A pair of retired circus elephants, Martha and Lou, move in as next-door neighbors to young Joel’s grandparents, Morris and Gussie, with whom he is staying on vacation at the Del Ray Retirement Village (in Florida, of course.) That no one questions (much) the arrival of two pachyderms as new members provides the main ingredient of this story’s overwhelming charm. Ms. Stevenson tells the story of Joel’s poolside adventures with over-sized companions as an exquisite understatement sure to spark any child’s imagination. Children accept the impossible. But the marvelous illustrations of Ms. Spicer bring this unlikely tale vividly to life, providing the authenticity the story calls for with drama, humor, and boundless energy.

Oy, Elephants! presents a great collaboration between Deborah Stevenson and Morgan Spicer, who know perfectly well how to instill their heartwarming message - so important to the young - in the guise of old folks living lives of earned release and conditioned ways, even if two of those old folks happen to be elephants. Because of their time in the circus, Martha and Lou offer youthful fun and immediate help to their new neighbors, and the most memorable vacation Joel has yet experienced. Lest one misinterpret, however, the creators of this book take time (in their preface) to explain why elephants should not be entertainers, and (in an afterword) why elephants are such genuinely marvelous creatures. A portion of the proceeds from this delightful book go the World Wildlife Fund, making this special book wonderfully complete.

Mamta Madhavan

In Oy, Elephants! by Deborah Stevenson, the author blends two topics together; that of taking care of elephants so that they survive for future generations to appreciate, and she also showcases the bonding between grandparents and grandchildren. Joel is excited to spend his school break with his grandparents in Florida, but he is worried about how he is going to spend his time with them. He is happy to see the new neighbors of his grandparents - a pair of retired circus elephants, Lou and Martha. The story shows how Joel’s holiday with his grandparents turns out to be exciting in the company of the elephants.

The author weaves two concepts into the story with ease and makes it appealing to children. The illustrations are delightful and charming and they breathe life into the characters and scenes. Elephants are endangered animals and the author does her bit to educate readers more about elephants. Joel’s friendship with the two elephants shows how friendship with animals can actually enrich our lives. The dual concepts in the story make it ideal for read aloud sessions in classrooms and school libraries. It is also a good bedtime storytelling book for parents and grandparents to read out loud to their children and grandchildren. It is fun to read the book and see how Joel’s holiday turns into an adventure and how he bonds with his grandparents. It is a story for all animal lovers and gives information to young readers about elephants.

Jack Magnus

Oy, Elephants! is a children’s animal picture book written by Deborah Stevenson and illustrated by Morgan Spicer. Joel loved visiting his Grandpa Morris and Grandma Gussie in Florida, and he was looking forward to spending his school break with them. He did worry a bit, however, that he might get bored at times with the usually relaxed atmosphere of the Delray Retirement Village where they lived. Grandpa Morris and he had great times playing chess, and Grandma Gussie’s blintzes and egg creams were the best, but he had no TV in his room and he really wasn’t looking forward to hearing about how big he had gotten. Still, he was thrilled to see them waiting for him at the airport and laughed as Grandpa Morris drove and Grandma Gussie was the “backseat driver” on the way home. That night, he had a bit of trouble settling in and getting to sleep but then it was morning again. He looked out his window and was stunned to see the newest neighbors who were moving in across the street. They were elephants!

Deborah Stevenson’s humorous children’s picture book about animals, Oy Elephants!, follows Joel, his Grandpa Morris and Grandma Gussie as they befriend and get to know the new neighbors, who just happen to be elephants. Inspired by the fact that circus elephants retire to the Center for Elephant Conservation in Central Florida, Stevenson tweaks their retirement destination just a bit to help kids learn more about elephants in a fun and decidedly different manner. Joel, Grandpa Morris and Grandma Gussie are marvelous characters -- my mouth is still watering at the thought of those blintzes and egg creams. Along the way, I learned a lot about elephants and had fun imagining Martha and Lou, the new folks in town, making waves in the pool and helping Joel’s grandparents redesign their home after a mishap with a chair. Morgan Spicer’s illustrations are divinely inspired! She makes Joel and his grandparents so real from the very first panels on, and her work with Martha and Lou is a treat indeed. This is a book that will be fun for adults and kids alike, as well as providing a springboard for a discussion on elephants and circuses. Oy Elephants! is most highly recommended.

Jessica Barbosa

Deborah Stevenson and Morgan Spicer's Oy, Elephants! is an engaging illustrated book about Joel who visits his grandmother and grandfather at Delray Retirement Village. He was happy to see his grandparents and eat his favorite food, but he also worried about being bored, since nothing exciting ever happened in Delray Retirement Village. Little did he know that a new, exciting encounter awaited him the next day in the form of his grandparents' new neighbours, the Helfands!

Oy, Elephants! is a wonderful story that will no doubt fascinate children all over the world. It is simple yet interesting and is meant to teach well and entertain. Morgan Spicer's illustrations are so charming and adorable that these made me squeal with delight as I admired the art. Deborah Stevenson's story is clear-cut, easy to follow, and a wonderful read. Both the illustrations and the story work superbly with each other. The book brought out the child in me as I read through the text and admired the art. This is the kind of book you will read again and again to a captivated audience. It is also a story that teaches you to be more mindful and considerate of others, even if some people (or animals) are different. You never know; you might find a friend in them.

I also loved that on the last pages of the book there were fun facts about elephants and how the author managed to work these facts in throughout the story. Not only is it an amazing work with moral lessons and wondrous illustrations, but it is an educational one as well. It helps engage a child's curiosity about animals and even provides websites on how to help and/or learn more about not only elephants, but other animals children may be interested in. All in all, this a truly marvelous, amazing book that I sincerely enjoyed and loved.

Rick Felty

What a wonderful and creative story this is! Oy, Elephants! by Deborah Stevenson is inventive, engaging and just plain fun to read. It tells the story of Joel, a young man going to Florida for his school break. He’s going to be staying with his grandparents and although he loves them dearly, nothing EVER happens at their retirement village! EVER! Little does he know that on THIS trip, a LOT is going to happen and yes, it involves elephants! After a first very uneventful day, some new neighbors move in across the street and the events that unfold set the entire community into a raucous tizzy!

The book is full of energetic, colorful and yet lovely/sensitive illustrations that help take the reader on this wild journey with Joel and his grandparents. I felt the artwork here fit the story perfectly!

The grownups in Oy, Elephants! learn a lot about having fun and being more carefree as they interact with the new neighbors. I also love how Joel comes to a deeper appreciation of his grandparents after their “adventure.” In many ways, at its core this book is about family.

In addition I want to tip my hat to the author for such a clever story idea. I myself have been aware of the fight to protect elephants from often cruel lives in circuses as well as the recent agreement by some circuses to stop using the animals. This story is a kind of “what if” resulting from the real world liberation of elephants. And while not a story about the plight of circus elephants, it still shines a light on that real life story. I love that about this book.

You and your kids will love Oy, Elephants! and I highly recommend it.

- Rick Felty, Author of the award-winning Tabitha Fink series including his latest book, Tabitha Fink and the Patchwork Pirates