Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Book Review: 'The Smellyphant' by Gavin Buckley

Artist/illustrator/author Gavin Buckley is based in Scotland with a wealth of experience in producing professional artwork for industry. Having worked as a senior computer games artist for a number of years, he is now exploring his passion for storytelling and is establishing himself as a promising new talent in the world of children's books. And that is all we know from his brief bio, but jump into this story of Samson the Smellyphant and you immediately know you are in the presence of a very gifted man.

Rich imagination, a terrific sense of humor, and a sensitive side for folks who are different and feeling outside of the norm are all present in this terrific new book. Gavin's illustrations go beyond illustrations for a book and become pure art when he allows the images to push that far. He has created a character in Samson the Smellyphant that is endearing and my bet is that this lovable animal will become a favorite among children fortunate enough to have access to this book.
Samson has no friends because he smells, he has a knot in his trunk and he has pongs (or clothespins as we would call them here) on his tail. He watches his fellow elephants play and wishes he had friends. He decides to bathe to get rid of his smell but he fears water. One day a storm comes - thunder and lightning and rain - a situation that frightens all his elephant friends. Unafraid of the noise, Samson uses the pongs on his tail to clamp closed the ears of his friends so the sounds of the storm won't frighten them. And after the rain the other elephants look for Samson and see him with a knot in his trunk but no pongs in the back and the discover what this brave little chap has done - he has had compassion for the elephants who have ignored him, faced up to his fears and showed them what true friendship is.

Gavin's rhyme scheme is endearing and his repeated use of Samson's appearance helps the little song along. This is a story of kindness, bravery, dealing with differences, and friendship and is created with such grace that it should become a favorite best seller. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, July 15

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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