The Masterwork of a Painting Elephant

The Masterwork of a Painting Elephant

by Michelle Cuevas, Ed Young

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781429969802
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: 10/11/2011
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 144
File size: 913 KB
Age Range: 7 - 11 Years

About the Author

Michelle Cuevas graduated from Williams College and holds a master of fine arts in creative writing from the University of Virginia, where she received the Henry Hoyns Fellowship. She lives in Berkshire County, Massachusetts.

Ed Young is the Caldecott Award-winning illustrator and writer of many children's books. He lives in Westchester County, New York, with his two daughters.

Ed Young was born in China and spent his childhood in Shanghai. The illustrator of many books for children, he has received numerous awards, including a Caldecott Medal for his book Lon Po Po, and two Caldecott Honors for The Emperor and the Kite and Seven Blind Mice. He was twice nominated for the Hans Christian Andersen Medal, the highest international recognition given to children's book authors and illustrators who have made a lasting contribution to children's literature. Ed Young lives in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York.

Read an Excerpt

But He Has Such Big Ears

My name is Pigeon Jones, and I was raised by a painting Indian elephant. This is how my adventure started: one day when I was an infant in my crib, a pigeon flew into our house through the window. This is not, as you may be thinking, why I am named Pigeon. The bird did, however, cause my mama to become quite upset.
“Get that filthy bird out of here,” she shouted. “Don’t let it touch the baby.”
My papa didn’t see the bird at first, but he stayed calm, sat still, and whispered under his breath, “Just be quiet now. Wait till she lands.”
The pigeon was fat. And clumsy. She landed on the side of my crib and flapped her wings so hard she got tangled in the solar-system mobile overhead. Several planets went flying. Venus fell into my crib with a thud and missed my head by only a few inches.
My mama screamed, “Grab that stupid bird.”
The bird didn’t seem to mind being called stupid, and when Papa approached, she climbed onto his outstretched arm one foot at a time.
Papa put the bird on a tree branch outside the window, and that crazy bird began to sing. Loudly. And not very well.
My mama and papa came over and stared down at me. The sun filtered through the leaves on the tree and dappled the light, making continents on my skin. I wasn’t crying. In truth I was enjoying the show from my crib.
“The baby kept calm through the entire commotion,” Papa said thoughtfully. “Through the flapping and the flying and a planet almost falling on his head. I wonder if he can hear?”
“But he has such big ears,” Mama gasped. “How could anyone not hear with those enormous ears?” It was true. I had ridiculously big ears. Huge. Gigantic. They looked like someone had taken dinner plates and attached them to the sides of my head. I was, in this way, quite unlike my parents, who both had remarkably small ears. I think this made it hard for them to hear each other, so they’d end up yelling most of the time.

But the doctor confirmed that there was nothing at all wrong with my big ears. My papa got more and more interested in the way the world looked and sounded to me, such a calm and unconcerned baby. Every time he heard or saw something interesting, he’d say, “I wonder how the baby”—they hadn’t yet given me a name—“would sense that?” and write it down. He had long lists all over the house describing things like how it sounds when someone steps on dry leaves or when a dog laps water or the unexpected noise when a child’s toy drops in the next room. His plan was to ask me all these things as soon as I was old enough to talk. Of course, as with many plans in life, by the time I could talk, most of the lists would have turned yellow and been forgotten.
And if you think my papa sounds a bit strange, then you’ve never had the pleasure of meeting my mama. After I was born she became possessed by a heart-racing, hand-wringing sense of worry that something awful might befall me.
“He’ll get eaten by a tiger,” she’d cry. “Or hit by a bus. I just know it.” She had daily panic attacks and would have to put her head between her legs and breathe into a paper bag.
She worried and worried, until one day, overcome by tears, she was sent to bed for an indefinite amount of time by the doctor.
“Perhaps there is someone to help you care for the baby,” the doctor suggested.
“I suppose we have no other option,” Papa said sadly. “We must do this for the baby’s sake.” And so, that very night, my mama and papa tucked me into a basket, placed me on the steps of an orphanage, and left town, never to return. Attached to my blanket was a note that read:

Text copyright © 2011 by Michelle Cuevas

Table of Contents


Title Page,
ONE But He Has Such Big Ears,
TWO Pizzazz Shmizazz,
THREE As Simple as This,
FOUR The Too-Small-for-a-Name Town,
FIVE A Painting Elephant,
SIX Scientific Names and Other Zoological Facts,
SEVEN The Elephant (Not Quite) in the Room,
EIGHT Red Balloons,
NINE The Amazing Singing Hoboes,
TEN The Great Golden God,
ELEVEN Svelte Hippos and Colorful Zebras,
TWELVE Catching Silver Fish,
THIRTEEN Slim Spatucci: Talent Guru,
FOURTEEN A Signature Is Not Hard to Find,
FIFTEEN A Beret and a Cupcake,
SIXTEEN Postcards,
SEVENTEEN A Wolf in Frog's Clothing,
EIGHTEEN Sometimes the World Is Littered with Peanut Shells,
NINETEEN The Triumphant Return of the Bumbling Pigeon,
TWENTY L'Art de la Mer,
TWENTY-ONE Beneath Our Feet,
TWENTY-TWO The Best Position There Is,
TWENTY-THREE Trout-Bellied Rainbow Skies,
TWENTY-FOUR The Masterwork of a Painting Elephant,

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The Masterwork of a Painting Elephant 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book to my 2nd grade class and they were enthralled from beginning to end!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book in my bbya club and loved it.i recoomend to 9-12 year olds
superbadgerlovestory More than 1 year ago
I am ashamed. My 10-year old nephew got an advanced copy of this book from his parents' "literary" friends. Last weekend I was visiting and the bright blue cover caught my eye. I flipped it open and started skimming through this supposed "children's" book. Breathtaking. I loved everything about it. The beautiful writing made the whole experience feel like a dance across the pages. I will give it back to my nephew eventually, but I think I will read it a few more times first.