My daughter Alice is three… and she’s in love. It’s very simple. Alice has been in love with her “best friend James” (also three) for as long as their short legs have propelled them towards each other. “For three whole years”, Alice will tell you (holding up five fingers). When you’re three, love is about sharing your chicken nuggets, patting the other person on the head when they fall down, and belly laughing when someone does a bottom burp. Now when it comes to picture books, a lot of people will tell you that there’s no room for romantic love – kids are just too young to understand. But love is a many splendored thing… in all of its beautiful guises. Ask Alice about love, and yes she’ll tell you it’s about giving James a “super dooper” hug. But she’ll probably also tell you it’s about taking care of her baby brother and going to the cinema with Nanna.
Books like When an Elephant Falls in Love, by Davide Cali and Alice Lotti, teach little people that love is special and wonderful. And as they grow into a world that on the surface can sometimes seem devoid of love and kindness, surely sharing a story like this is the perfect antidote. And really, who better to bring us a book on love, than two Italians!
The story weaves together heartfelt words with dreamy illustrations, as we follow an elephant’s experience of falling in love, and all of the many symptoms that come with it; from writing letters that he never sends to taking a bath every day. And yes, there are a few symptoms in there for the adult reader, like finishing the cheesecake in the fridge (we’ve all been there). But I like that; after all, this is just the sort of book that you never really grow out of. As the little ones get older, the story will just take on new meaning.
So tonight, when your little people burrow in beside you for their bedtime story, make a little room for When an Elephant Falls in Love, a book on love.