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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.