Poe Won’t Go by Kelly DiPucchio illustrated by Zachariah Ohora

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Poe Won’t Go by Kelly DiPucchio illustrated by Zachariah Ohora

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This silly book has an abrupt ending, but plenty of giggles along the way that make you forgive the sudden conclusion.  Additionally there is a lot of diversity in the illustrations, a little hijabi girl of color that steals the show, and a lesson about asking and listening that children 4-7 will find sweet and enjoyable.  It is an AR 2.5 and has 36 pages.  Some are text heavy, but my 4 year old had no problem sitting through it with the silly pictures and large 9 x 11.5 size.

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Poe is an elephant that has planted himself in the middle of the only road in Prickly Valley.  The citizens do everything they can think of to get him to move.  They honk, write him a ticket, bang pots and pans, play trombones, blast megaphones, tickle, beg, and bribe.  They even bring in mice, and magnets, and motivational speakers.  Clowns and copters, cranes and pastors, magicians and the mayor, no one can get him to move.

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After lots of discussions involving coffee in stryrofoam cups, a little girl named Marigold, asks the mayor if anyone has asked Poe.  Such an obvious suggestion, the Mayor laughs and says she doesn’t speak elephant.  Little hijabi Marigold says, “anyone can speak elephant if they just listen hard enough.”  She is also fluent in kitten and hedgehog.

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Marigold discovers that Poe is waiting for a friend that is very late.  A reporter asks if the friend could be wearing a polka-dot-tie, it is determined that it is possible and that also perhaps he is sitting on his friend. At that Poe stands up, finds his friend Mo and the two walk off.

The randomness of Poe sitting on his friend made me have to read the story a few times checking to see if a page was missing or stuck together, but alas no, it just suddenly is resolved and ends with no clues indicating that the elephant is sitting on a monkey.

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I love that the name in the text for the little girl is Marigold, and that the illustrator chose to depict her as a little Muslim girl of color.  On many of the other pages with the town folk trying to move the elephant, there are people of all colors, body shapes, hairstyles, head gear, eye wear, facial hair, body art, etc shown.  Marigold seems to be at work with her father at their flower shop, and the mayor is a female.

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There is nothing religious in the book, save a pastor trying to persuade the elephant to get behind him, and it doesn’t appear that the author or illustrator are Muslim (it is published by Disney Hyperion) which in someways makes the normalizing of a girl in hijab all the more sweeter.  Sure, someone her age wouldn’t be required to cover, but the message and representation is deliberate and appreciated.

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