The Elephant of Frimley
Written by Nicholas Rawls
Illustrations by Louise Jewell
Clink Street Publishing 5/27/2017
46 pages Ages 4—8
“Two sisters and an elephant embark on an exciting adventure in this charming illustrated
“After the discovery of an elephant in their back garden, sisters Hannah and Emily make it their adventurous mission to return it back home.
“Originally written as a bedtime story for his two daughters, and beautifully illustrated by Louise Jewell, The Elephant of Frimley is a delightful and fun read that parents, primary school teachers and extended families will enjoy sharing with young children.” [Publisher]
The Elephant of Frimley is about two young girls who wake up to find an unhappy elephant in their garden. The elephant is on the ground trying to eat an apple, but crying too hard to swallow. The girls tie a string around the elephant’s trunk and pull, which forces the elephant to its feet. They then walk through the park, where a zookeeper spots the elephant. The girls take the elephant into the zoo and are thanked—by name (how did zookeeper know their names?)—and are then abruptly asked to leave. With hurt feelings, the girls return home. “The End”
The author, Nicholas Rawls, wrote this bedtime story for his two young daughters, placing the girls and himself in the story. It is a simple story, without any conflicts. Readers are not ever told the reason why the elephant cried, why the zookeeper was so rude, and why he was more worried about security than the elephant. Because of this, the story is incomplete. Children will have questions trying to understand the story.
Because of punctuation and grammar problems, the story needs a huge rewrite. Capitalization is random and commas are glaringly missing or incorrectly used. Unfortunately, The Elephant of Frimley reads as if written for the rhyme, not for the story. The meter is often off, rhymes are slanted or used just to rhyme (without any meaning to the story), and often the difficult run-on sentences leave the reader breathless and confused.
“And there, in the
garden under the tree
By the swing, near the garage,
just as plain as could be
Stood a great big grey
elephant as big as the sky
Eating an apple
with a tear in its eye.”
In the stanza above, thanks to the lack of punctuation, the apple has an eye and is crying. “. . . Eating an apple with a tear in its eye.”
It is understandable why the story would please the Rawls’s two daughters Hannah and Emily. Children love to hear their name read in a story; they like being in the story even more. Kids love having a story written just for them. It is something they can cherish all their life and pass down to their children. Unfortunately, most stories like this should stay in the family. I would love to say the writing was good, even clear, but cannot. A good editor and a strong rewrite need to happen for this story to be publishable.
Writing should be easy, right. We all write and talk all day, so how difficult can it be to write a story? Writing for children is very difficult if you want to do it correctly. Children deserve great writing. They need good examples to follow.
These reviews are the one thing I hate about Amazon opening the gates to anyone wishing to become a published author. These reviews are difficult to write—not wanting to hurt feelings or discourage the talented—and, I am sure, most difficult to read, especially for the author. Like most any other profession, if you want to join and do well, you must learn a few things first—and then keep on learning. Check out CBI Clubhouse*, KidLit College*, Kidlit411*, Institute of Children’s Literature*, and most every writer’s blog has writing tips. [*These are NOT affiliate links.]
To Nicholas Rawls, and others like him, learn your craft, do not give up, and keep writing. The Elephant of Frimley is Nicholas Rawls’s debut children’s book.
THE ELEPHANT OF FRIMLEY. Text copyright © 2017 by Nicholas Rawls. Illustrations copyright © 2017 by Louise Jewell. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Clink Street Publishing, New York, NY.
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Illustrations from THE ELEPHANT OF FRIMLEY by Nicholas Rawls copyright © 2017 by Louise Jewell. Used with permission from Clink Street Publishing/Authoright.
Copyright © 2017 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved.