The Saggy Baggy Elephant

I was wandering around a street fair last weekend and a friend pointed out a book booth. Blame them for the money I spent on the 1.00 Little Golden Book bin. I pillaged it!

My favorite book so far is one I do not remember from my own childhood. That is ok. It is quickly becoming one of my favorite little treats of adulthood- think of it as a cupcake for your brain. My copy of The Saggy Baggy Elephant smells like musty garage even though the copy is in pristine condition.

TENGGRENS illustrations are what really make this book one worth “squeeing” over. The Saggy Baggy elephant is just about the saggiest, baggiest, cutest little fellow you have ever seen. (Along with pigs I have a soft spot for baby elephants).

K. and B. Jackson’s tale is about an elephant who calls himself Sooki. We meet him dancing his way through the jungle. Sookie thinks he is dancing beautifully until a parrot starts making fun of him for “shaking the jungle all to pieces…”  The Parrot asks Sooki what kind of animal he is- and we find that Sooki does not know. He only knows he calls himself Sooki:

“I don’t know what kind of animal I am. I live all alone by myself in the jungle. I dance and I kick- and I call myself Sooki. It’s a good sounding name. And it fits me, don’t you think?”

The parrot goes on to shatter the psyche of little Sookie better than any sixth grade girl could.

“Maybe’ answered the parrot, ‘but if it does it’s the only thing that does fit you. Your ears are to big for you, and your nose is way too big for you. And your skin is MUCH too big for you. And your skin is much, MUCH too big for you. It’s baggy and saggy. You should call yourself saggy baggy!”

Sooki takes the criticism as well as he can and tries to improve himself in various ways over the course of the book. Of course, nothing works and Sooki remains saggy and baggy. Towards the end of the book Sooki is so ashamed of how he looks he decides to hide in a cave. (I could just CRY…the illustrations of a sad baby elephant are almost too much to take. ).

Soon after taking refuge in the cave Sooki realizes too late that he is in home of a hungry lion.

The once happy Sooki is despondent:

“This is the end of me, sags, bags, wrinkles, and all…”

In his last moments Sooki decides to go out with a bang and gives out one last good trumpeting bellow…and who should appear but….SPOIER ALERT...a herd of ELEPHANTS! The hungry lion is terrified and runs away and little Sooki finds his ‘tribe’ at last!

“I wish I looked like you,” he said.“You do,” grinned the elephants. “You’re a perfectly dandy little elephant!”

Cue warm fuzzies!

I was impressed by the lessons found in a book for children so small. Who hasn’t experienced what Sooki did? Feeling out of place, unattractive, and awkward is a part of the human experience for all of us at one point or another. Finding the feelings narrated through animals makes the lessons accesible for all children. Let’s not forget the happy ending – a reminder that there is a group of friends for us all- the people who make us feel like we fit, and allow us to be ourselves.

A lovely book for just about anyone of any age.

Pig Kahuna

A small fact about me: I am sort of obsessed with tiny, adorable pigs. I want one for a pet. I want to walk it on a leash and give it baths and dress it up as something ridiculous for Halloween. Now of course you can imagine the “squeeing” noise I made when I saw that one of my student’s had purchased me my very own copy of Pig Kahuna by Jennifer Sattler from the school book fair. My copy of the book smells like glossy magazine pages.

Pig Kahuna is a simple story of two bovine brothers. Fergus and his baby brother Dink are having a great day collecting things on the beach when an old surf board washes up. When no one claims the board the boys name it “Dave.”  They do not take the board into the water because of the “lurking, murky,ickiness factor of the water.” Instead they spend their day playing imagination games on the beach. Sattler’s illustrations are a key highlight to the simple and sweet story. Every page that features Fergus and Dink is a delight (this is every page)!

The story takes a thrilling turn when baby Dink decides to release “Dave”  back into sea. Fergus is horrified and bravely goes to retrieve his new playmate “Dave.” In the rescue process  Fergus inadvertently surfs his first wave! Suddenly both boys have a changed attitude about the ocean and we leave our beloved brothers just beginning to discover the thrills provided by the ocean!

As a pig and ocean lover I can say this book has found a special place in my heart. However, I feel confident that land lovers will be just as enamored with the book!  This book is  also a great read for a child who may be a bit hesitant about playing in the ocean.  The boys go from land locked to big wave surfers in one afternoon- one hopes their courage would inspire any little swimmers who are intimidated by the surf.

I hope that Sattler finds new settings and adventures for Fergus and Dink!  Check out more work from Jennifer Sattler here.

Moominpappa at Sea

I came across this book at one of my favorite bookstores in Philadelphia, or anywhere for that matter, The Spiral Bookcase. I strongly encourage all of you to like them on Facebook and to take time to go vist them in person if you are ever in Philly.

My copy of this book smells of old, used, and damp vanilla air freshener. The pages are over dry and the binding is falling apart so I was careful while I read it.

I have been meaning to dig into the Moomin series for a while now and when I found this book in the dollar bin at The Spiral Bookcase I knew it was the perfect time. Moominpappa at Sea is one of the more philosophical books of the internationally best selling Tove Jansson (We have the same birthday!!!) series. I would compare it to reading The Little Prince byAntoine de Saint-Exupéry. You know you are technically reading children’s literature but the book is rife with deep emotional family issues and interesting characters who each seem to represent some part of the human psyche. There is more than a simple tale of a troll family struggling to build a new life on an odd and desolate island. 

In the beginning of the story Moominpappa decides to move his entire family to an island far out at sea so that he can take care of them and protect them. It seems Moominpappa is not feeling very useful and necessary so he creates this adventure for his family. One of the more striking quotes from the book comes from Moominmamma just as the family is about to set off and leave behind their cozy home. “It’s strange,’ Moominmamma thought. ‘Strange that people can be sad, and even angry because life is to easy. But that’s the way it is, I suppose. The only thing to do is to start life fresh.'” 

There are comic moments, a mystery, and a few surprisingly chilling turns in this story. A quick read and a journey I do not believe you will  regret taking. A little digging tells me that the rest of the Moomin series is not so philosophical- but you better believe I will be checking them out soon!

I would recommend this book for adults who want some reading that will inspire some deep thinking with lovely black and white illustrations of adorable trolls as a palette cleanser.