Elephant Island

by Leo Timmers (Author) Leo Timmers (Illustrator)

Elephant Island
Reading Level: K − 1st Grade

A shipwrecked elephant makes his tiny island a home for the many friends who come to the rescue, in the new picture book from New York Times Illustrated Book Award winning author/artist Leo Timmers.

Caught in a storm, Arnold the elephant washes up on a tiny island. Along comes Mouse in a little dingy and Arnold steps aboard...uh-oh! They use the wreckage to make the island bigger. And here's Dog--can this boat take Arnold's weight? Uh-oh! None of the animals can save the shipwrecked elephant but each broken vessel provides new materials for another intricate construction. Wheels and pulleys create a Ferris wheel, an elevator, a waffle maker. All the animals work as a team to build increasingly intricate constructions that turn the desert island into a fun park city. Soon there is a whole community and enough space for everyone!

As with all Leo Timmers picture books, Elephant Island has many layers of discovery. Tapping into the childhood pleasure of contraptions, this cheerful picture book is full of complex and playful visual detail and humor that Leo Timmers' readers love. 

Publishers Weekly

When a "boisterous wave" sinks Arnold the elephant's boat--the stormy sea is rendered in almost palpably rough dark brushstrokes--he's stranded on a tiny rock barely the size of his foot. But though several seafaring animals offer to rescue him, each boat is swamped as soon as the pachyderm steps aboard. No matter: like Timmers (Monkey on the Run), Arnold proves a gifted and deeply silly engineer. Salvaging the wreckage, the elephant rigs up an increasingly elaborate, improbable structure atop the diminutive rock, transforming it into a multilevel affair on which the group dances under a starry blue sky and "all night long sang whale songs." As is true for any trend-setting spot, "Soon everyone was setting course for Elephant Island," with each new animal deliberately contributing its respective vessel to create a towering attraction--complete with a waffle maker--that's portrayed with subtle sculptural dimensionality. When a second squall gives everyone the chance to head home, the group demurs; it's a picture book tribute to the power of collective, constructive play, and to heeding the call of freedom. Ages 3-6. (Mar.)

Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.


From the image of the solitary, stranded elephant quoting the ancient mariner, “Alone, alone, all, all alone. Alone on a wide wide sea,” to the scenes depicting his joyous community at the story’s end, the tender yet dynamic verbal and visual narrative never falters in this engaging picture book.

Review quotes

This light-tension, winking tale of a makeshift homecoming is sure to delight audiences at story time.—Foreword Reviews, starred

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Gecko Press
Publication date
March 20, 2022

Subscribe to our delicious e-newsletter!