As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been a fan of Richard Scarry since I was young boy. For those of you unfamilar with his work, he was a prolific author and illustrator of children’s books. The characters in his books were often anthropomorphized animals, who Scarry used to teach his readers various things, such as manners. One such book is called “Polite Elephant.” This is a book that we often read to Baby Boy.
It is a pleasant story about a young, male elephant who has impeccable manners. For instance, he always remembers to say “please” and “thank you.” Furthermore, when waiting “for the bus, he takes his place in line.” Likewise, he seems to be the perfect guest when visiting a friend’s home. Who wouldn’t want a friend like the “Polite Elephant?” There are just a few questions that I have.
First, we know he has a car, but he sometimes takes the bus. However, I am not sure how an elephant would drive a car since they don’t have hands. Perhaps this is the reason his car appears to have no steering wheel, at least on one page. If this is so, he maybe should just stick to riding the bus permanently.
Second, one of his friends is Mrs. Smith, a small mouse who lives in a house built out of a tree stump. The “Polite Elephant” goes to Mrs. Smith’s house, where we see him inside. I don’t know many elephants who would fit inside of a house so small.
Third, before sitting down to dinner with his mother, he washes his “hands” and face at the bathroom sink. Again, with no hands and fingers, how is he turning the knobs? I know, this is a children’s book and we are supposed to suspend our disbelief somewhat. However, it is difficult throughout this book.
Fourth, as noted above, the “Polite Elephant” has his own car. However, the relationship that he has with his mother still seems pretty childlike. For instance, he still calls her “mommy.” He also is still playing with children’s toys. Likewise, he introduces his friends to his mother, as if they have all come over to play after school. I don’t know many grade-school aged children who drive cars, do you?
Despite my questions this a good book that teaches children manners. The illustrations are enjoyable, but there are just those nagging questions that I have. Where is the steering wheel? How does the “Polite Elephant” drive with no hands? However, my biggest question is, why hasn’t he moved out yet and gotten a job?
He needs to put down the toys, grab the want ads, hop on the bus and make his way to some job interviews. With his people skills and the polite way in which he interacts with others, he’d make a great customer service representative.
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