Sunday, June 25, 2023

Today's read... The Invisible Elephant by Anna Anisimova

Today's read greets from Russia! After receiving much love there and in other countries, it's been translated into English. It's a collection of four stories for chapter book readers and surrounds the adventures of a young, blind girl. The illustrations are said to be a treat and the theme very well done.

Let's take a peek and see how this read does!

by Anna Anisimova
Illustrated by Yulia Sidnera
Translated by Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp
Restless Books
Chapter Book
112 pages
ages 6 to 12

From beloved Russian children’s author Anna Anisimova comes a heartwarming, beautifully illustrated chapter book about a blind girl who joyfully explores her environment using her senses and vivid imagination, inviting young readers to understand their surroundings in entirely new ways.

For the young, blind heroine of The Invisible Elephant, the world is a thrilling place full of sounds, smells, and sensations. Although she doesn’t see the world outside with her eyes, nothing stops her from interacting with her surroundings with joy and an impressively creative imagination. In four charming stories, we go with her to the zoo, the museum, art class, and get a peek into her wonderfully magical mind where her grandfather's walking cane can transform into a horse and a sled can become a whale. When the time comes for her to learn Braille, we watch how her family and friends cheer her on every step of the way as she discovers how to navigate the world in her own way.

With gorgeous, inventive illustrations by Yulia Sidneva and artfully translated by Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp, The Invisible Elephant, is a truly special book that helps kids to value all the different ways of seeing the world.



The world takes on new meaning in a set of delightfully crafted tales, which open up a new view to the world around us while adding a small touch of imagination along the way.

The stories surround the experiences of a young, blind girl as she goes to the zoo and museum, spends time with her grandfather, learns to read Braille, and plays in the snow. The scenes are familiar, but thanks to the girl's fun imagination, each one turns into a playful adventure.

The author has done a wonderful job opening up the world of the blind without ever feeling preachy or awkward. Readers meet the girl as she plays hide-and-seek with her mother...a very usual activity. Her inability to see isn't directly stated but glides in with natural actions. While readers might need a little heads-up about what is happening, the way the stories are told allows this to also be done through discussions, which does begin to help readers learn to understand the more subtle meanings in a text.  The girl's unique circumstance is also never approached with pity, but rather, effortlessly demonstrates how the girl is as normal as normal can be. 

Sentences are kept rather short, and the vocabulary fits well to the intended audience level. This book is broken down into four tales, each with over a dozen, short chapters. This allows young readers to go through a little at a time without feeling overwhelmed. Plus, the lovely illustrations add pleasant pauses as well as a visual means to help understand the stories. 

These are enjoyable reads, which take everyday experiences and mix in a lovely amount of imagination to make dreams fly. Invisible elephants, grandfathers with three-legs, or whales living on balconies are only a few of the fantastical touches, which make each tale enjoyable to read. I see this one especially fitting for classroom and homeschooling settings.

And here they are...

Anna Anisimova is a journalist, editor, and children’s book writer. Born and raised in the north of the Irkutsk region, in the village of Kropotkin, Siberia, Anisimova graduated with a degree in journalism from Novosibirsk State University. Anismova has written more than 10 books and been nominated for several literary awards including the Samuil Marshak Literary Prize, the New Children’s Book Prize, the Vladislav Krapivin International Children’s Literature Prize and others.

Yulia Sidneva is an artist and illustrator, and a member of Moscow Union of Artists. She graduated from the Moscow State University of Printing. In addition to illustrating children's books Sidneva also designs various printed products, gives master classes in book graphics, and works as a designer at Samokat Publishing House.

Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp is a literary translator working from Arabic, German and Russian into English. She translates fiction and nonfiction, and has a particular interest in history, historical fiction, and writing for children and young adults.Her translations include books from Germany, Jordan, Morocco, Palestine, Russia, Switzerland and Syria. Ruth is a passionate advocate of world literature for young people and diversity in children’s publishing. She is co-editor of ArabKidLitNow! and Russian Kid Lit blogs, and writes about global reading for young people at World Kid Lit, Words Without Borders, and World Literature Today.

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