In Reid’s debut children’s book, as a mother elephant and her calf stroll through the grasslands, Little Gray imagines the two of them switching places. “‘If I grew up and you were my calf…. I’d spend every day with you,” he says. “I would be your calf and stay right by your side,” his mother responds. Bryant’s dewy, pastel palette fills the landscape as the elephants saunter along, acting out each of the scenarios that the calf entertains. “‘I could show you how to make mud,’ said Little Gray. ‘I know you’d be a good teacher,’ Mama said.” An abundantly sweet depiction of a child’s gentle nudging for assurance.
A cozy tale about a young elephant imagining what things would be like if he were grown.
An elephant mother spends the day with her Little Gray. His desire to grow up and his conflicting desire that his mother always be there to offer advice and support are at the root of his many questions. “Mama, when I grow up, will you grow down?” Mama elephant is portrayed as the ideal mother. Her gentle words put her young one at ease and bolster his growing confidence. When Little Gray states he will share leaves from a tall tree when he is bigger, Mama exclaims, “You would be big! And very kind.” Pastel-hued spreads are dominated by pale yellows, warm greens and watery blues. The elephants’ expressive eyes convey admiration and love, while the nimble movements of the younger pachyderm contrast with the steady, darker-hued mother, whose bigger shape often frames her child.
School Library Journal:
PreS-K—As a baby elephant spends a day with her mother, she considers “what if” she were big and her mother were small. Little Gray determines that she would do everything that her mother is doing with her, like strolling through fields of grass, eating sweet leaves off of a high tree, swimming, and sleeping cuddled up together. Most of all, Little Gray promises that she would keep her mother safe, just as she feels on this perfect day. The story reads like a combination of Robert Munsch’s Love You Forever (Firefly, 1995) and Barbara M. Joosse’s Mama, Do You Love Me? (Chronicle, 1998), in which the child pretends and the parent patiently plays along. Soft, watercolor illustrations highlight the expressive faces of the two animals and enhance the theme of unconditional love between parent and child.
Jennifer Miskec, Longwood University, Farmville, VA
Toronto Public Library:
Mama’s Day with Little Gray was named to the Toronto Public Library’s First and Best list for 2014. This list celebrates the “top ten picks for kids under five” to help them prepare for reading.