The Elephant that Ate the Night
Bing Bai and Yuanyuan Shen
Everything With Words
It’s always a pleasure to discover talented writers and illustrators I’ve not come across before and so I was especially happy to receive this animal tale from Everything With Words, an independent publisher that is also new to me.
Let’s head to Dark Mushroom Forest wherein live three friends, Duoduo a little bear cub, Zhazha the porcupine and monkey Taotao. These three have something in common: they are all scared of the dark fearing that it might SWALLOW them up just like it engulfs the entire forest.
One day, into the forest comes Awu the elephant, but this is no ordinary elephant for he doesn’t eat grass or leaves; he doesn’t even eat bananas. Instead, Awu’s diet consists entirely of DARK NIGHT and he eagerly anticipates his meal every morning.
When he’s approached by the little bear cub’s mother with a request to swallow up the night he is happy to oblige on account of it being so he says, ‘ … yummier than bananas, … tastier than grass, crunchier than bamboo. It’s the best thing in the world and it’s got my name on it!’
Come the animals’ bedtime, Awu visits the bedrooms of, first Duoduo,
then Taotao and finally Zhazha. Can you guess how he gets rid of the dark? He sucks it right up his long truck.
The little animals rush outside and dance together in celebration while Awu ensures there isn’t even a smidgen of dark left anywhere in the forest.
Initially the little animals are thrilled with this endless day that allows so much playing time. Before long however, the elation pales as yawns and tiredness take over.
All the animals, even the trees and flowers want the dark back.
Can the night-consuming elephant be persuaded to restore the natural rhythm of day and night?
Reassuring and funny at the same time, this is a cracking bedtime (or any other time) tale especially for those children who, like the little animals herein, have nocturnal fears. I absolutely love Yuanyaun Shen’s deliciously quirky portrayal of the animals, large and small.