Inspiring Young Readers

posted on 02 Aug 2023

Doris by Lo Cole

I was intrigued to receive this review copy as there are already so many famous literary elephants in the world of children’s literature. How would Doris, the rather cheeky red one looking at us sideways on the book cover, measure up? She stands out in any crowd because of her bright appearance but she would like to be less visible and to blend in because she is very shy. 

We travel with Doris through the book as she is first camouflaged against a flock of birds looking for worms and then some beautiful wild flowers. Readers will enjoy looking closely to find her amidst the colour as she wonders whether she might be an ‘ele-finch’ or an ‘ele-plant’ rather than an elephant. I liked the way in which Doris alternates between being mixed in with a multi coloured background and then standing out starkly in a clean, white space framed with colour. 

There follows a moment of jeopardy when a big black fish with yellow teeth arrives at the bottom corner of the page to disturb her tranquillity within a pool of shimmering fish. But as he swims across to fill the following page, Doris finds her voice and defies him to follow her.  When the next pages are flooded with the colour red, she is barely visible and she ‘begins to wonder if she is even an elephant at all’. Her escape back onto a white background is transformative as she is now proud of her identity and invites everyone to look at her. Emboldened with self- confidence, she is more than ready to meet and greet a huge blue rhinoceros, but it seems that he doesn’t want to be stared at by anyone and stomps off to the next page! Even if they are outgoing with family and friends at home, many young children take time to develop confidence in social situations and might also identify with the pressure of unwanted attention.

The overall design of this beautiful picture book is very pleasing with multiple red elephants cavorting across the front- end papers and equally varied blue rhinos on the finishing end papers. It has a rather retro feel using a distinctive palette based on soft red, pink, blue and yellow. Apart from the colourful illustrations, the text is simple and repetitive which will lend itself to reading aloud and encouraging young readers to join in. There is plenty of inspiration for action in the vocabulary as Doris marches, stumbles, trudges, plops, splish – splashes, wades, and skips across the pages. I look forward to sharing the story with nursery and reception age children who may also be inspired to create their own elephant pictures and models.

I can definitely see Doris joining the elephant herd with Elmer, Babar, Horton, Edward Trunk, Mrs Large and many others to become a well-loved character.

Published by Rocket Bird Books, it should be available to order from your independent bookshop or directly from the website       


Karen Argent

August 2023