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  • Little, Brown US


Mike Wu

2 Reviews

Rated 0

Fiction, Picture books


The zoo is closing!

Ellie and her friends want to save their home, but Ellie's just a baby elephant, and she doesn't know what she can do to help.

While the other animals are busy working, Ellie finds a brush and some paints, and gives the zoo a big splash of color! Will her bright new talent be enough to keep the zoo's gates open for good?

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Praise for Ellie

  • When Walt the zookeeper announces the zoo will be closing for good, all the animals pitch in to save it. But shy Ellie the elephant cannot see how she can help. How can she help save the zoo? Gerard the gorilla is clever and always has good ideas. Lucy the giraffe can clean up all the places no one else can reach. Even the penguins and monkeys are sprucing up the gray and ramshackle zoo. Everyone but Ellie has a job to do. With big, round eyes, sweet Ellie is clearly sad that she cannot help save her home. With a "brighten the corner where you are" attitude, Ellie picks up a paintbrush and gives it a try. Like Dorothy arriving in Oz, the world changes when the paint hits the walls. In his first picture book, Pixar animator Wu creates watercolor illustrations that are reminiscent of classics like Harry the Dirty Dog and Curious George. Round Gerard, tall Lucy, and impossibly thin Walt are distinct personalities beyond their physical attributes. There is a timelessness that draws attention to these gentle figures. The storyline, however, meanders like the little elephant as the book proceeds. Is the kernel of this book about contributing even if you are little? Or saving the zoo and becoming famous? Luckily for Ellie and readers alike, it is the pictures that matter - Kirkus Reviews

  • Wu, an animator who has worked on many Pixar hits, makes his literary debut with a story ever-so-gently ripped from the headlines: the artwork-producing elephant. The eponymous heroine is desperate to help her compatriots save their zoo from closing, but she's too small to make a dent in the needed cleanup and repair work. On a whim, Ellie picks up a paintbrush with her trunk and within a few pages, she is a not just a sought-after portraitist, but also a performance artist: "Soon, people from around the world came to see Ellie, the remarkable painting elephant." Wu is a literal writer, but his visual storytelling, rendered in sweet, throwback-style watercolors, shows creativity and poise. Ellie, who looks like she's a branch of Dumbo's family tree, leads a cast of equally endearing animal characters, and every vignette is expertly framed for a chuckle, an "Awww," or both: when Ellie paints a portrait of Lucy the giraffe, her subject's head extends beyond the top edge of the page - PW

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