- Grade Level: Kindergarten - 6
- Paperback: 38 pages
- Publisher: Aperture Press (December 12, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0999515829
- ISBN-13: 978-0999515822
- Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.1 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,714,545 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Oy, Elephants! Paperback – December 12, 2017
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This fantastic author/illustrator team, who also put together the award-winning title Soaring Soren, have a true gift. ... This recipe of great story and brilliant drawings come together to make this book unforgettable. So unforgettable that your own grandchild may just see it and beg you to read it 24/7...at least, that's what happened in my house. (Oy!) ~Amy Lignor, Feathered Quill Reviews
~Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers' Favorite
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.
~Jessica Barbosa, Readers' Favorite
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.
~Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
From the Author
I am often fascinated by where story ideas originate, so I thought I would share how the idea for Oy, Elephants! came about.
I was reading a news article one day about the upcoming retirement of the Ringling Brothers circus elephants. There were some very serious aspects to the article, including the welfare of the elephants and what was in their best interests.
But on a less serious note, I confess I was more than a little tickled by the notion that the elephants, like so many humans before them have done, were retiring to FLORIDA! In fact, my very own grandparents, once upon a time, had done just that, retiring to Delray Beach.
I have always had a special affinity for elephants. For many years, I have collected elephant knick knacks and been interested in elephant issues and conservation efforts. Some little clouds began to collect in my brain, just wispy at first. Elephants, retirement, Florida, grandparents ... they floated around, slowly crisscrossing and forming into an idea.
What if the circus elephants retired to Florida, and not to an elephant conservation center as in real life, but to a Florida retirement village? How would the elephants be received by the residents? What predicaments would evolve from elephants in a retirement village? How would my own grandparents have reacted to these unlikely neighbors? I liked it! In fact, I liked it quite a bit.
I feel it adds depth and believability to a story when the characters have some basis in real life, and for this story, my very own grandparents seemed the perfect muses.
My Grandma Gussie was a strong influence in my life, bestowing on me a deep love for animals and a strong sense of family, and always setting an example of kindness and caring. She made friends easily and everywhere she went. She had a unique way of making each person feel special, welcome and cherished. She was a phenomenal cook, who delighted in feeding those she loved. And, well, she was a little bossy, but in the best possible way.
My Grandpa Morris (though he spelled it Maurice, he pronounced it Morris), was a born grandpa--stuffed with patience and fun, always up for an adventure, and never tired of playing with the grandkids. The sillier the game, the better. I remember him standing on a piece of wood, sliding down a hill in the snow with us, just because we asked him to do it. He opted to walk instead of drive whenever possible, more on principle, though he was not the best driver. He was curious, loved to learn and share stories. He said a lot of funny things (not always on purpose) ... single lines that, upon recitation, can still bring family members to tears of laughter. And he had a heart of gold.
I considered how my grandparents would react to elephants moving in next door, and the answer was clear to me--they'd welcome them with open arms, make them feel right at home, and of course invite them to dinner. And so the story unfolded.
I wanted to showcase the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren, and so the main character evolved, named for my youngest cousin, Joel. The grandkids often went to visit my grandparents. In later years, the great grandkids went along. Staying over was always a special treat, filled with fun activities, grandma's offerings of all our favorite foods and grandpa's stories, games and his infamous egg creams, which he served in tiny A&W root beer mugs. I imagined young Joel, excited to see his grandparents, but worried he might be a little bit bored as the only kid in a retirement village full of seniors, and how he might react if some elephants moved in next door.
I had a great time talking with my aunt (mother to Joel, the main character's namesake) about what Gussie and Morris might do with the resident elephants and what adventures they might share. We reminisced and laughed, and little by little, the details and events fell into place. In fact, there are aspects of the story, including some of the specific dialogue, that are drawn directly from real life. As a result, the story is rich with memories for me, of two of my very favorite people.
Because I have a deep appreciation for the magnificent creatures that are elephants, and a strong desire to see them survive for future generations to appreciate, I also wanted to take the opportunity to teach children a bit about them, and about how to help ensure their future. In the back of the book is a section about elephants, encouraging children to learn more. Additionally, a portion of the proceeds from the book will go to charities that protect elephants.
I also hoped to share a meaningful message. Though a family of elephants may be unlikely to move in next door, we live in a diverse world where it is easy to fear or shun those who are different from us. This story explores the things we have in common and how those things can bridge the differences that separate us. It reminds us that we all bring unique gifts to the party of life, and that extending a hand in friendship can make all the difference to others, as well as add richness and depth to our own lives.
Finally, as a tribute to my wonderful grandparents, who were such an anchor, inspiration and source of unconditional love and acceptance for me, my siblings and my cousins growing up, I wanted to share the very unique and precious relationship of grandparents and grandchildren. To envision a wonderful grandpa like my own reading Oy, Elephants! to a grandchild at bedtime brings a special smile to my heart.
To my extremely talented illustrator, Morgan Spicer, my incredibly astute editor, Krista Hill of L Talbott Editorial, and my wonderful publisher, Aperture Press--I can't thank you all enough for helping me take my wisps of an idea and turn them into a book.
Be kind and laugh often,
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I love Soaring Soren or Oy, Elephants more, so I will just have to love them equally!
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