Have You Seen Elephant? (Gecko Press) and The Big Race (Hodder Children’s Books) by David Barrow

We recently had the pleasure of attending a kids workshop by author illustrator, David Barrow, as part of Northamptonshire Children’s Book Group’s fantastic inaugural event at the wonderful Delapre Abbey (find NCBG on Twitter @NorthantsCBG and Facebook).

Have you seen Elephant? was David Barrow’s first picture book and we were delighted to have a masterclass from David in how to draw, and how not to draw elephants.

The book has a simple, yet charming premise – a baby elephant, that is nevertheless much larger than it’s small friend, claims to be ever so good at hiding.

Although as the reader, we can easily spot the elephant with its ears or trunk or feet poking out from under a blanket, from either side of a too narrow tree, or from behind Dad’s tv, the little boy is stumped as to where elephant might be.

Thrilled when elephant finally reveals himself, the boy and the elephant are then greeted by a sporty looking tortoise keen for a game of tag.

A delightful read from beginning to end, the illustrations are vibrant and the animals are alive with wonderful characteristics, from the tufts of hair and smiley eyes of baby elephant, to the pricked up ears and inquisitive snout of the family dog.

The Big Race was published last year and is an uplifting tale of a brave and determined little aardvark. Little aardvark refuses to be intimidated by “fast” cheetah, “big” buffalo and “strong” crocodile and, despite their sniggers, she determines that she will complete “The Big Race”.

Aardvark starts well, “hot on the heels” of her fast, big and strong competitors, showing great courage as she scoots up a steep hill, plunges down a waterfall and tight rope walks across a valley. Aardvark starts to feel very tired, but won’t give up and with a little help from a friend she finds herself about to cross the finish line. In the end, it’s not clear who has come first, but for little aardvark she is over the moon to have completed the race and had lots of fun.

This book is great for encouraging little people to have a go and take part, even when we’re not the fastest, biggest or strongest. The illustrations wonderfully capture the movement and efforts of the animals, together with their expressive faces and each page bursts with colour.