The endearing little elephant featured in the Pomelo the Garden Elephant series keeps right on growing and investigating life’s myriad mysteries in Pomelo’s Big Adventure.
Pomelo has already learned about colors, opposites, and his own physical development. The cotton-candy pink pachyderm that started out being the size of a radish has now outlasted his favorite puffball (which first appeared in Pomelo Begins to Grow, 2011) and decides to travel afar.
With characteristic quirkiness, Ms. Bădescu reveals what Pomelo packs in his knapsack; he includes not only the practical (toothbrush, matches, a map) but also amusingly childish objects: a stone, crayons, and acorns. The elephant’s simple thinking process is demonstrated by his strategy of choosing his path by tossing a beribboned stone and then proceeding in that direction.
Throughout Pomelo’s Big Adventure, a gentle spirit of exploration leads the protagonist and the reader onward. Oversize pages filled with Mr. Chaud’s witty, bright drawings that pop amidst white pages reflect the elephant’s sense of curiosity and openness to possibilities.
Along the way, the author provides adults with fresh opportunities to discuss universal questions with children. For instance, consider the elephant’s approach to new experiences: “He takes the route such as it is: prickly, uphill, sticky, boring, surprising, lively, and … lost in the distance.” And later, when Pomelo encounters a shifty rat who dupes him into trading his valuable supplies for a wind-up car that promptly falls apart, the elephant feels the way anyone who’s been tricked might: rueful, uncertain, homesick. In the midst of a gray rain, though, he decides to march on, and the author points out, “We take many risks in life, of course, but Pomelo seems to have plunged into a world ruled by chance.”
Soon, Pomelo encounters a helpful old elephant who offers the determined explorer not only food but much-needed emotional guidance that will enable him to enjoy his journey. The mature mentor, called Papamelo, gathers wood and teaches the little one how to build a boat. And then, in his wisdom, he tells Pomelo, “It’s time to leave.”
When the pink elephant encounters danger, the memory of lessons learned from Papamelo, spur him on. A final double-page spread parades the unforeseen benefits of this hero’s courage and fortitude. In a glowing, cheerful scene, we see Pomelo on the beach at sunset with his new friend—a lively, freckled starfish eager to share joyous experiences. Young readers will no doubt anticipate further adventures celebrating this wildly unlikely pair.
Reprinted with permission from the New York Journal of Books
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