The Elephant in the Room

It’s Day 7 of Advent, and you know what that means …

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Today’s Advent book is The Elephant in the Room by James Thorp and Angus Mackinnon, published by Templar Books.

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I can’t convey how excited I was when this book came in the post. Several years ago, when Holly was still actively involved in this blog, we reviewed a couple of picture books by this dynamic duo (aka the Superhairies) – The Weasel Puffin Unicorn Baboon Pig Lobster Race and Dogs on Stilts. Holly adored these titles and was over the moon when she met James and Angus in London in 2013 (you can read about that here). This new book did not disappoint. The cover itself promised it would be full of their trademark zany, surreal humour – illustrations in bold colours and wavy psychedelic lines.

The story starts with a teaser ‘It started with an “OOOPS”‘ and the reader is plunged into the mystery of who broke Father Giant’s beloved elephant ornament. Father Giant, determined to discover who is behind this crime against china, cross-examines everyone/thing in his house but every time he thinks he’s found the culprit, another piece of evidence emerges. The naughty newt, the laughing lady and the yucky yak are all in the clear, but someone was responsible. Will the truth ever be out?

The style of Thorp and Mackinnon is very distinct in the world of children’s picture books. It’s not just the almost art-nouveau artistry or the bold colours (as you can see, turquoise, pink and purple are favoured over red, blues and greens)  but the line drawings which I reckon attract an adult’s attention as much as a child’s. I felt like I was looking at and reading a 1940s Miss Marple or similar, with the added appeal of rhymes, which are skilfully done and not at all forced, as occasionally happens in children’s books. It all flows into a fun and zany world that is unique and wonderful.

I hope there will be more from Angus and James!

Please note that I received a review copy of this book.



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