Hansell, Kim. A Star for Ethel. Illustrations by Rob Flore. Book review.

Click here to buy A Star for Ethel

The illustrations in this picture book are wonderful, a blend of realism and animation style drawings. These pictures could easily be up on a movie theater screen.

Ethel, the elephant, tries to make friends but the monkey, the giraffe, and the lion cub make fun of her long “ugly” nose. Ethel tries to explain that her trunk can do many wonderful things but the others continue to mock her until she leaves and gives up on socializing. A fire breaks out on the savanna and Ethel, using her trunk, is the only one who is able to put it out. Afterward the lioness says “What a beautiful trunk you have. It saved our children, and our home!” In gratitude her new friends choose an extra twinkly star to give to Ethel.

The print is quite small and very hard to read on a tablet.

The storyline is good. However the ending, with the star, seems disconnected from the rest of the plot. The title, “A Star for Ethel” also feels misleading. The story is about friendship, self-identity, forgiveness, and gratitude. I understand that the star is the expression of gratitude from the monkey, giraffe, and lion cub but I think the last scene needed to connect back to the importance and beauty of Ethel’s trunk.


Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages