Title: Never Ride Your Elephant to School
Author(s): Doug Johnson
Illustrator/Photographer: Abby Carter
Publisher and Year: Henry Holy and Company, 1995
Number of pages: 27
Tags/Themes: Colleen Swanson, Animals, Humor, Fiction, 2-3, 4-5
Genre: Humorous Fiction
Descriptive Annotation: This book describes all the wild and crazy events that will occur if you were to ride your elephant to school. If at school, your elephant will cause a great commotion and ruckus among students and teachers. The story explains that your elephant will try to fit in like a normal student but will be unable to due to his size, tendencies, and the overwhelming fact that he is not a human. In the end, it becomes apparent that an elephant does not belong at school but rather somewhere that is best fit for him, like the circus. This is a very funny loving book that will sure to make every student in your class laugh. The illustrations in this book are colorful and vibrant paintings bringing the silly elephant and his comical ways to life. Each image creates a different scene in the school and really demonstrates why an elephant does not belong in a school.
Students who have been at school for a few years would really enjoy this book most due to the fact that they know what are the customs of school each day. By students having this prior knowledge of what is acceptable school behavior and what is not, they will find the humor in this story and understand why the elephant cannot go to school everyday.
Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This story focuses on the typical American school culture here in the United States. Some diversity is seen in the illustrations with students of many different races being represented in the school. This book would most likely generate discussion of why an elephant or any large animal would not do well in our schools interacting with other students and teachers.
Interdisciplinary Connections: In the text, the story talks about how an elephant would not do well participating in activities in many subjects, like Math, Reading, Language Arts, or Physical Education. Thus this story can be used to reinforce activities in each of these subject areas as well. I particularly see this text working best in reinforcing content in a Language Arts or Physical Education class.
Other Information: I really enjoyed this book and I most definitely see students finding this text extremely funny. I see this story working well with students in grades 2-5, due to the fact that they know what are acceptable behaviors at school and therefore will find the humor in the elephant’s ways. After reading this text to my students, I would have them work in groups and create a their own story incorporating another animal that would not fit into a human being environment or activity, such as a duck playing basketball.