PICTURE BOOK REVIEW: The Elephant and the Sea by Ed Vere


written and illustrated by Ed Vere
Doubleday, 2024
ISBN: 978-0-525-58090-4
Source: Publisher through Blue Slip Media (Thanks!)
Ages 4-8
All opinions expressed are solely my own.
Book cover & summary provided by the publisher through Blue Slip Media & Goodreads.com.


An inspiring, seafaring fable about a determined and brave elephant who reaches for his dreams, from New York Times bestselling author-illustrator Ed Vere.

"There is only one thing I want to do . . . So I will do it!"

Gabriel the elephant dreams of being part of the lifeboat crew in his seaside town, but he is too young, and too little. But soon, Gabriel grows up and he is too . . . BIG! Disappointed but undaunted, Gabriel makes a plan. He hammers and chops, saws and sands, and builds his very own boat.

One night, a great storm hits, and it's Gabriel's time to shine, pulling his oars alone against the crashing waves to save a crew in peril.

Young children will love rooting for underdog Gabriel and will draw inspiration from his determination to achieve his dreams despite hurdles and setbacks. 

The Elephant and the Sea is a perfect gift for anyone setting out on a new path, encouraging them to face life’s obstacles with optimism.


ED VERE is the author and illustrator of numerous picture books, including How to Be a Lion, The Artist, and the New York Times and USA Today bestseller Max the Brave. He lives in London. Learn more at ed-vere.format.com.


The cover of The Elephant and the Sea stands out with it's startling image of an elephant rowing a lifeboat on stormy seas. Gabriel, the elephant, has a dream. He wants to help the rowers who man the lifeboat that goes out to help fishermen in trouble. The first time he asks, he's too small. When he comes back after growing up, he's too big. As an elderly Gabriel sitting and reminiscing remembers, he doesn't let this setback stop him from pursuing his dream. He just has to find another way to follow his dream. When the next emergency strikes, Gabriel is ready to help. The glassy ocean with it's rippling waves and tiny fishing vessels, combined with the drab, almost lifeless old fishing village come to life in Vere's striking illustrations. Using the red boat for Gabriel's dream pursuit works well and helps to make him visible in the storm-tossed seas. Based on a real-life village and the important work of lifeboat crews, the book highlights a little-known aspect of the fishing industry as well as the importance of pursuing one's dreams through obstacles both nature-made and human-made.


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