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Tinky Weisblat

Two kids’ books, both worthy of your child

“The Elephant Boy’s Dilemma” by Robert Kracauer, illustrated by Rhys Davies (Lulu, 34 pages, $9.95).

Elephants are known for their intelligence, their longevity and, of course, their prodigious memories. Robert Kracauer of Northampton has woven an imaginative, colorful story around this species in “The Elephant Boy’s Dilemma.”

Suitable for children from approximately 7 to 10 years of age, the book is set in the distant past in India. An 8-year-old boy named Simbu adores elephants and would love to have one of his very own.

Unfortunately, only the maharaja is allowed to own one of these noble beasts. Nevertheless, the little boy dreams of playing with an elephant, working with an elephant and dressing up to have tea with the maharaja.

One day while berry picking, Simbu comes across a wounded elephant moaning in pain. He tries to help the creature, only to be arrested by the maharaja’s troops and tossed into a cell at the palace. The elephant is beaten by her mahout, the official in charge of caring for her.

Despite his fear and worry, Simbu tries to stick up for his new animal friend. His spirited defense of the elephant draws the interest of the maharaja, who gives the boy a chance to prove that he can treat the elephant better than the mahout has.

“The Elephant Boy’s Dilemma” is charming. The vivid illustrations by Rhys Davies of Amherst capture the earth tones of India and the shimmering skies of a child’s imagination. The author’s message that persistence, common sense and love can help make dreams come true should be valuable to readers of all ages.

“Night Night Valley” by Jennifer S. Page, illustrated by Rachel A. Chapman (CreateSpace, 28 pages, $10)

“Night Night Valley: A Bedtime Story Set in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts” caters to a younger audience (preschoolers) but also offers charm and a positive message. Author Jennifer S. Page wanted to capture the spirit of our area in a book that would appeal to her own offspring.

She asked neighbors to identify their favorite child-friendly spots and also included many of her own. The book alludes to a number of area landmarks — including Look Park, the Eric Carle Museum and Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory — as it says a gentle good night to the Pioneer Valley.

Page enlisted artist and fellow Amherst resident Rachel Chapman to create soft watercolor images of buildings and trains, produce and cows. Page’s rhyming couplets are playful; Chapman’s landscapes and creatures are engaging.

This sweet, lovely book should provide ideal bedtime reading for small children who love western Massachusetts. Chapman and Page dedicate their work to their own daughters.

Kracauer will appear on Saturday, July 12, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the World Eye Bookshop in Greenfield to read from “The Elephant Boy’s Dilemma.” “Night Night Valley” is also available at the World Eye.

Tinky Weisblat is the author of “The Pudding Hollow Cookbook” and “Pulling Taffy.” She is always looking for new books from Franklin County-related authors to review. If you have a book suggestion, email her at For more information about Tinky, visit her website,

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