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The Big Elephant in the Room
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The Big Elephant in the Room

3.62  ·  Rating Details ·  327 Ratings  ·  91 Reviews
When one donkey tells his friend that they need to talk about "the big elephant in the room," his friend wonders what this embarrassing issue could possibly be. Is it that fact that he ate all the crunchy nut ice cream? Is it that he picked his friend last for soccer... and baseball, and volleyball? Is it the "going in the pool" incident? Or is it none of those things at a ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published July 7th 2009 by Disney-Hyperion
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Bri  Ahearn
Aug 05, 2009 Bri Ahearn rated it it was ok
When I saw a new Lane Smith book had arrived in my store, I jumped for joy. Not literally, because that would scare the customers. Smith's new book, Big Elephant in the Room is good, but I didn't enjoy it as much as the classic The True Story of the Three Little Pigs or The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Tales.

The Big Elephant in the Room is the story of two donkey friends. As you can see by the cover, one is portrayed as a geeky donkey, complete with bow tie and glasses. The other is the "cool" fr
Sep 16, 2009 babyhippoface rated it liked it
I was slow to read this one because I had seen several less-than-stellar reviews for it. But I love Lane Smith, so when I came across it in the library, I picked it up. It made me chuckle, so I took it to my sister, who is a middle school librarian. She laughed her fanny off.

Yes, the donkey is an... well, a donkey. He's a jerk. He's a bad friend, entirely self-centered, and sometimes, a bully. If he was a living, breathing human, I wouldn't like him much. But because he's a character in a book,
Sep 07, 2009 Marcia rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: grades-2-4
I found this to be a mean-spirited picture book. Meant perhaps to humorously introduce the phrase "the elephant in the room", two friends share misunderstandings which become increasingly mean and embarrassing. Yes, there is an elephant in the room, but finding him was no fun at all. I like Lane Smith much better when he is paired with Jon Sciezka.
Jun 30, 2010 Marcie rated it liked it
Did I miss something, or was there a political hint in this book about a blue and grey donkey discussing the "elephant in the room"? Maybe I just wanted a political message from Lane Smith, and missed it. I'm not sure how I'd use this one. I'm pretty sure I read it last year and just stuck it on a back burner. Perhaps future reads will find a use for it.
Jul 25, 2015 Alys rated it it was amazing
Categories/Genres for this class fulfilled by this book: Picture

Estimate of age level of interest: pre-school age to 4th grade

Estimate of reading level: Guided reading level P

Brief description: There's a big elephant in the room that one friend wants to talk to the other about. Throughout the book, the one friend asks things like, "was it when I ate all of the ice cream?" After confessing all of his guilt, the other buddy says, "no, the elephant in the room!" Pan over to the picture of the eleph
Apr 07, 2012 Dolly rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
Shelves: childrens, humor, 2012
Our girls' elementary school librarian read this book to them in each of their respective library times with their class. They loved this book and insisted that I borrow it so I could read it, too. We love Lane Smith's books and especially his illustrations, so I wasn't totally surprised that this book is written by him. I loved the combination of the donkeys and the elephant and as we're in the middle of an election year, it makes this book all the more appropriate. I had to explain the iconic ...more
Feb 06, 2011 Megan rated it really liked it
This book is about two donkeys who are hanging out together when one of them says, "Can we talk about the Big Elephant in the room?" The 2nd donkey then offers up about 25 bad things that he did to his friend, assuming that the Big Elephant was something rude he did. We find out that he is really not such a good friend. And in the end, the 1st donkey says, "No, I'm really talking about the literal Big Elephant in the room" (which there actually is one, but he was in the corner watching t.v., so ...more
Jan 27, 2009 Sarah rated it really liked it
Shelves: picturebooks
Thank you Hyperion for my advance copy. Nothing sets me atwitter like the latest and greatest picture book. Lane Smith is pulling another solo act with this picture book and has proved that he doesn't need to have Scieszka to be funny. Two donkeys talk about the elephant in the room, one revealing all of the embarassing things he's done to the other before figuring out that there is in fact a giant elephant in the room. Definitely a funny story fully of donkey angst and per usual illustrations t ...more
Another book that seems a little off to be a kids' book. If you're trying to teach them the meaning of the phrase "The Big Elephant," then this book will probably do it. Part of the humor I found was just from recent personal experience with that phrase, so it was interesting to see this book. I wasn't amazed by this book. Especially as I guessed what the ending was. And some of the humor is a little mature for very young kids (though I'm sure they'd enjoy it). And while it could be funny all th ...more
Jul 23, 2012 Emilia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: edsl-520
Smith, Lane. The Big Elephant in the Room. New York, NY: Hyperion for Children, 2009.

*Virginia Readers' Choice Award Winner

-This is a story about two friends discussing "the big elephant in the room". One friend thinks it is something that he has done and lists all of the things it could have been. However, it turns out there actually is an elephant in the room


Activities to do with children
- Use this book to discuss idioms like "the big elephant in the room"
-Have students
Aug 03, 2009 carissa rated it really liked it
Recommended Ages: K- 2nd grade

When one donkey tells his friend that they need to talk about " the big elephant in the room," his friend wonders what this embarrassing issue could possibly be. Is it that fact that he ate all the crunchy nut ice cream? Is it that he picked his friend last for soccer... and baseball, and volleyball? Is it the " going in the pool" incident? Or is it none of those things at all? With hilarious artwork and clever wordplay, Lane Smith demonstrates just how BIG a proble
Jun 04, 2012 Amy rated it it was amazing
The donkey tells his friend they need to talk about the big elephant in the room. The friend wants to know what it is? The baby bike incident? Suspicious pool color incident? Super glue incident? But there is literally an elephant in the room. Teachers can use this in writing - have the students write a story using an idiom such as this or beggars can't be choosers, out of the blue, or best thing since sliced bread. In art, kids could draw pictures of idioms and in general - teachers could creat ...more
Sep 16, 2012 Jodie rated it liked it
This is a book written for older readers. The one friend asks about the big elephant in the room and the other friend gives examples of things he has done. It is pretty funny (with some funny pictures, but I would not share this with the younger groups that I work with. A good way to teach about this phrase, but the other friend isn't nice and the examples are mean at times. I know that Lane Smith is on a mission to get more kids reading and he'll be successful especially with some of the sillin ...more
Apr 28, 2011 Rebecca rated it liked it
Recommends it for: K-2
Recommended to Rebecca by: Susan
This must really be the year for elephants! Another fun story from Lane Smith. As the tiny note on the CIP page says, "the 'big elephant in the room' is an expression that describes a big problem or situation that is being ignored -- usually because it is really embarrassing." So if a friend accuses you of ignoring said elephant, you might be unsure which bad thing you recently did would qualify, and you might let all those things pour forth in a guessing game of guilt and embarrassment. This'd ...more
Jun 12, 2012 Megan rated it liked it
Shelves: idioms
This is another cute story by Lane Smith. Two donkeys decide they need to talk about the big elephant in the room. One of them lists all of the things he's done that could have possible hurt the other's feelings. In the end, there is really a large elephant in the room. This is where you could talk about another well-known idiom "stick your foot in your mouth." I think kids would find it funny.
Jan 02, 2013 Tracy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kid-stuff
i thought this was much funnier than it should be. i read it to my niece and my daughter and they both kept their attention on the book. if you read it dramatically, with different voices, it's even funnier and better than you would think. i've read it at least four times now and my daughter tries to read it on her own, but it's even more hilarious when she makes the voices. so, again, mommy does good!
Oct 16, 2012 Glenna rated it it was amazing
This is a humorous picture book geared for nursery and primary school children that touches on the topic of misunderstandings. In this book, one character tries to communicate to his friend about a "big elephant in the room", but instead of hearing him out, his friend jumps to all sorts of silly conclusions as to what the "elephant" might be. The clever word play will keep students laughing and attentive as well as display the importance of communication and patience.
Feb 08, 2010 Susan rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
I LOVE the illustrations in this picture book...and the story did make me smile(that's why I gave it three stars. BUT would a young child understand The "Big Elephant" double entendre????? No way! If you are reading picture books for your own enjoyment this is worth a read. If you are reading to young children, don't bother.
Jan 30, 2011 Laura rated it liked it
This was a humorous book. I liked seeing how the characters responded to each scenario and what it ended up escalating to. The illustrations were wacky and suited the mood of the book. The ending was funny and I enjoyed seeing how miscommunication could make such a crazy story.

*Taken from my book reviews blog:
This is a funny book for kids to start to learn the idiomatic phrase "the elephant in the room." It is about friendship, telling the truth, and being good to others, while having the funny ending that the idiom was actually real and that the beans were spilled about all of the other things one friend had done to the other.
May 09, 2009 J-Lynn rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
This is an interesting study in misunderstanding and miscommunication because of the use of an idiom. The book would be good to use with second language learners to discuss how idioms and slang expressions are often hard to learn and hard to understand.

The scenarios posed are funny and the cartoon donkeys are cute.
Cute story, but as far as a VRC nominee for primary grades, I think the humor is going to be a little over the heads of the typical kindergartner and first grader (although the potty-humor-crowd will certainly enjoy the repeated references to the donkey friend who peed his pants).
Whitney Roberts
I love Lane Smith and his approach to children's literature. I love how this book introduces the phrase "the elephant in the room" and presents it in a humorous way to is sure to make kids laugh and remember the idiom forever.
Nov 03, 2011 M. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
This is rather silly book which means that it made me laugh. I love picture books. This one is meant to help kids learn about the figure of speech "the big elephant in the room" so not only is it entertaining, it's a little educational too.
The question: "Can we talk about the elephant in the room?"launches one donkey into a lengthy list of confessions. What could it be? What problem do they need to talk about, but they try to ignore? A funny look at this expression and a donkey being a jackass.

Oct 23, 2014 Miri rated it it was ok
Shelves: childrens-books
I thought it mildly amusing at best, but my three-year-old niece loves it. She's been through it at least ten times now, reading it with her older cousin or asking me to read it to her over and over again. Would be a funny way to teach both irony and idiomatic expressions.
Sep 28, 2015 Robin rated it liked it
This one grew on me. Didn't like it at first, then thought maybe it was for adults, then found it humorous for everyone. Might be good to help teach about idioms. Didn't find the illustrations appealing.
May 19, 2012 Benjamin rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens
Ha ha. This is Lane Smith doing his best pandering to boy readers/walking the line of kid-friendly gross-out humor. I laughed, because I got the joke. Do kids know the expression "elephant in the room"? If not, does it matter?
Aug 19, 2011 Laura rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Like It's A Book, this one is really more for older kids and even adults. Would make a great read aloud for upper grades. Love the expressions and detail in the illustrations and the humor in this book.
Vanessa Easley
This book literally made me laugh out loud at the end. It was so funny and comical. I found it entertaining and I feel that kids would find it entertains. The humor is pretty great. I love this author and the way they write.
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Smith was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but moved to Corona, California at a young age. He spent summers in Tulsa, however, and cites experiences there as inspirations for his work, saying that "[o]nce you've seen a 100-foot cement buffalo on top of a donut-stand (sic) in the middle of nowhere, you're never the same."

He studied art in college at the encouragement of his high school art teacher, helping
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