Elmer and Wilbur are spending some time with Grandpa Eldo, something lots of children will identify with. He tells them that in his youth, this was the time of year he'd go down to the coast for some Whale watching and, well, that sounds like a marvellous idea, so Elmer and Wilbur decide to try it for themselves. But it turns out there's more to Grandpa Eldo's story than he's telling them, and Elmer and Wilbur soon find themselves on a wild adventure.
Elmer is brilliant. The patchwork elephant loved by so many, he features in stories that are sweet but adventurous, and colourful beyond belief. This latest outing is no exception and the story moves neatly along with an obvious beginning, middle, and happy ending.
I really enjoyed the sense of cooperation in this book. In some worlds crocodiles would eat you, or at the very least snap at your toes, but here they help out their fellow animals. Everyone is friends in the forest, and so Elmer and Wilbur try to include them, though Lion and Tiger sadly have other priorities so have to stay behind. Even animals the pair might not have met before are friendly and helpful, so it makes sense that they talk to 'strangers' and ask them for assistance when things don't quite go to plan. You could always interpret this that all animals are equal, like all children are, so it's fun to make new friends and play with new classmates you've not met before.
This is a simple book that reads as if it's set in a simpler time, though it may just be that animals have got their priorities sorted and aren't as preoccupied with nonsense as humans. Either way, I would quite happily move to the forest because it seems such a jolly nice place to be.
The artwork in this series is always bright and brilliant, and even with the vivid colours, the elephants manage to stand out with their patchwork coats, Elmer's a rainbow of colours and Wilbur's a neat monochrome.
There are more words to this one than a lot of picture books, but that means it will keep for a while and grow with them, from the point that it's a reading aloud story to later on when they can read it themselves. The sentences are quite sensible and short and there's lots of speech too which is fun.
It's impossible to slate Elmer because the books are so right, and so spot on. Colourful and fun, the whole series is already a hit, and this is a fine new addition.
Elmer and the Whales is out now in hardback and on Kindle (um, ok). I got my copy courtesy of the Bookbag where this review first appeared.