"Oliver Elephant"

Trying to avoid a harried holiday can be a goal around Christmas time. But sometimes we fail, like the mom in “Oliver Elephant,” by Lou Peacock. The poor mom scurries about shopping with her baby Evie-May, and her little boy Noah, who has brought Oliver along, his beloved toy elephant.

The three head for a “Christmassy shop,” mommy sure they will have something for everyone on her list—Mary, Aunt Mable, Chloe, Claire, Great Uncle Jock, Grandma and Granddad.

As mommy busies herself finding this and that, Noah plays with Oliver, and keeps Evie-May entertained, but in the process the little boy sends a breakable crashing. Noah feels terrible, but mommy understands, as does the kind shopkeeper with a broom.

As soon as mommy’s list is complete the three head downstairs in the department store to get a treat. Tummies full, the more relaxed family heads for home, but at the shop door, the day falls apart. Oliver Elephant is lost. “Mommy, where did he go?” Noah asks, his question morphing into wails.

So begins a search throughout the store, retracing steps in a scenario any parent will identify with—and any child who’s lost a beloved toy will understand. Empathy abounds in a book with a surprise ending and cheery, colorful holiday illustrations by Helen Stephens.

Appropriate for preschool to kindergarten children.