One night all of a sudden the world split in two. Faced with this unexpected event - and with half of his considerable body missing - an elephant begins a journey to find his missing half. Along the way he discovers the many different ways there are of rebuilding and reinventing oneself. At once quietly poetic and (not-so-quietly) humorous Half of an Elephant is an adventure of a lifetime not just for our hero but for every reader who has ever struggled to find himself. ...
One night all of a sudden the world split in two. Faced with this unexpected event - and with half of his considerable body missing - an elephant begins a journey to find his missing half. Along the way he discovers the many different ways there are of rebuilding and reinventing oneself. At once quietly poetic and (not-so-quietly) humorous Half of an Elephant is an adventure of a lifetime not just for our hero but for every reader who has ever struggled to find himself.
An elephant loses his back half as the result of an unexpected catastrophe ("One night, all of a sudden, the world split in two") in this inventive tale. The fact that the fellow is made of corrugated cardboard, old screws, googly eyes and other assorted found objects makes the premise easier to take. Argentinian-born Gusti possesses a knack for storytelling and a sense of humor that will appeal to young and old alike. The elephant, it turns out, is not the only one missing a half. "Have you seen the other half of an elephant?" the hero's front half calls to the front half of a leopard constructed of a candy roll. "No," replies the leopard. "Have you seen the other half of a leopard?" After several unsuccessful efforts to join with the front halves of other creatures, the partial pachyderm decides that life as a half might not be so bad: "I can hide behind a tree. I can drive a sports car. And, best of all, my tail doesn't itch, because I don't have a tail!" (The illustrations of the back half's attempts to partner with others will elicit the most laughs: "The monkey couldn't jump from tree to tree with him attached.") When the elephant's two halves finally reunite (the world magically "became one again"), they discover that they need not be attached in the customary way in order to be happy-a moral that comes as a kind of boxtop prize to this most satisfying book. Ages 5-9. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
- Ken Marantz
This deceptively simple tale requires accepting a wildly imaginative premise: "One night, all of a sudden, the world split in two." In this strange half-world, an elephant wakes up to find that his back half is missing. Searching for it, he finds other creatures also missing their halves. He proposes joining with some of them, but finds the amusing results unsatisfactory. He then begins to see advantages to being only half. On the other half of the world, his other half is having similar problems and thoughts. When suddenly the world is back together, the halves are happy to also be together again: "but not that together." Gusti's illustrations are digital images created from what we might call junk: odd bits of wood, machine parts, and buttons, adding a surreal feeling to the sometimes amusing story. The action takes place against white backgrounds, or sometimes light blue, even dark blue with a broken plate acting the role of a crescent moon. The boldly printed text occasionally randomly includes an inserted flat doughnut for the letter "o." A double page filled with a score or more of half-critters is particularly absurd. Readers should be ready to find the fun in the objects and their adventures; then perhaps try designing some halves of their own.
- Quinby Frank
This delightful Latin American import will capture young imaginations. One night the world splits in two with a loud crack. An elephant finds himself with only his front half. He looks in vain for his other half, but finds that all the animals are missing their back halves. They try and join together with hilariously unsuccessful results and then decide there are advantages to the situation. The elephant's tail doesn't itch because he doesn't have a tail, and so on. The animals on the other side of the world have only their back halves and experience the same problems. When the world comes back together, so do the animals—well, not exactly! The animals are made from cleverly constructed digitized images of pieces of junk and old tools like old worn-out boards, fan blades, springs, etc. The giraffe's neck is a yellow tape measure and the crocodile's mouth is an old saw blade. A centipede with feet made from ceramic hooks is particularly fetching. The outrageously silly combinations of animals with surprisingly realistic expressions will appeal to children, who will instantly pick out the humorous details. A simple yet subtle conceit proving art and stories can come from anywhere. Teachers might find the book a useful springboard for art projects.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-A clever and unique picture book that is illustrated with digital images of objects arranged in collages. "One night, all of a sudden, the world split in two." An elephant loses his back half, and the sections wander around the world trying out new partners and discovering the advantages of being separate. Suddenly things snap back into place and the two are reunited (but not quite the same as before). The artwork is full of interesting details to pore over: nuts and bolts, washers, screws, wood pieces, springs, paintbrushes, and other everyday items are scattered across the pages, even creeping into the font every so often. On one spread, the halves of many animals circle the pages, tempting readers to match them up. This imaginative book could be used in storytime, but it will work best with individual readers who can delight over the inventive constructions.-Judith Constantinides, formerly at East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, LA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
In this odd import from an artist born in Argentina, the front and back halves of an elephant, split apart when the world suddenly divides, go in search of each other. As it happens, all of the other animals that they encounter have the "exact same" problem, so each demi-pachyderm tries out a succession of wildly mismatched new partners, from a worm to a flamingo. Gusti illustrates this twin odyssey with digital assemblages of cardboard and found junk connected with rusty screws; the elephant's trunk is an old spring, its body two neatly separated pieces of weathered yellow board, the tail a small paintbrush. Just as the disparate parts get used to being alone, the world reunites and they find each other again-but, having tasted independence, they decide to remain separated. This is not likely to have a broad audience, but some children may pore over the clever visuals, and some enjoy the tale's silly twists. (Picture book. 6-8)