The Elephant and the Sea


Elephant loves the sea. He watches the harbour, from the sailmakers to the net menders to the boatbuilders. However his focus is further, for he longs to join the lifeboats, to help those in danger on the sea.

At first he’s told he’s too young, that he  must wait and grow bigger. With that in mind, he exercises determinedly- ‘heave away, haul away, heave-HO!‘. However could it be that he grows too big? That he could not fit within the crew? What is he to do?

Could it be that Elephant builds his own lifeboat? One into which he fits perfectly? Then again, what if his skills, strength and boat might be needed on one particularly devastating night, that tests the fishermen and the lifeboat crews?

Bookwagon loves The Elephant and the Sea. Not only is the storytelling rich with the sea, history, folklore and wonder, but then the pictures are layered, beautiful, strong and lush. Altogether we arrive at a picture book ripe for sharing aloud, knowing and sharing, lingering over and losing. Bookwagon welcomes The Elephant and the Sea aboard.

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The Elephant and the Sea

Ed Vere

(Penguin Random House)

‘Heave away, haul away, heave-HO!‘ Gabriel loves life about the seashores more than anything. To that end, he watches ‘the boat builders, building,- the net menders, mending, – the sailmakers, stitching‘. However his eyes move beyond this to the lifeboats, for Gabriel longs to join them. Thereafter, he exercises with focus as a youngster so that he might be accepted as a crew member. However what if he grows too big for their boat? Could it mean that Gabriel might build his own boat, that he could go out to rescue alone?
Then again, what could happen if there was a night such as none other? One where the storms are huge and overwhelming, putting the fishermen and then the lifeboat crews at huge risk? Could this be the night that The Elephant and the Sea prove their might?
Ed Vere presents a most poignant and richly moving picture book, inspired by the Cornish shores and history. Like his The Artist, the pictures are rich, over-layered to suggest the passing of time and feeling, and black outlined, too. Then again, this story offers something so brave, determined and wonderful. The repetition, sound and drama are glorious and draw readers in so that they share the story, wholeheartedly engaged. In fact, Bookwagon offers that The Elephant and the Sea is a wonderful story to share in class, at home, in assembly. It is utterly beautiful.


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