Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Zola's Elephant” as Want to Read:
Zola's Elephant
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Zola's Elephant

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  403 ratings  ·  88 reviews
When Zola moves into the neighborhood, her new next-door neighbor is too shy to go over and introduce herself. Plus, Zola already has a friend to play with—an elephant!
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published October 9th 2018 by HMH Books for Young Readers
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Zola's Elephant, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Zola's Elephant

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.98  · 
Rating details
 ·  403 ratings  ·  88 reviews

Sort order
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
A sweet story with Zagarenki’s truly magical illustrations.
I love the illustrations in this one. The story is about making new friends. I enjoyed exploring the details in each image.
Nov 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
A lovely little friendship/mystery story. The narrator can't be friends with new neighbor Zola, because Zola is just having so much fun with her elephant (what else could be in that big box?). Pamela Zagarenski's illustrations are, as always, layered and detailed and glowing with color.
Michelle (FabBookReviews)

4.5 stars

Zola's Elephant by Toy Boat author Randall de Sève and illustrated by two-time Caldecott Honor winner Pamela Zagarenski opens with our young narrator telling readers about "a new girl next door" named Zola. The child tells us that while their respective mothers have "decided we should be friends", the appearance of a big, big moving box has convinced the narrator that "Zola already has a friend": an elephant! While the narrator is convinced (and keeps trying to convince the reader!) th
First sentence: There's a new girl next door. Her name is Zola. I know because our mothers met this morning and decided we should be friends. But Zola already has a friend. I know because I saw the big box.

Premise/plot: In Zola's Elephant, a little girl's imagination gets carried away. She imagines that the girl next door, Zola, has an elephant. She imagines ALL the things Zola and her elephant are doing in their new home. Readers, however, know the truth. There is no elephant and Zola is lonely
Aug 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
A perfect pairing of text and those always magical illustrations by Pamela Zagarenski. A girl invents a story about her new neighbor—she believes she has an elephant and thus is not in need of a new friend.
Maggi Rohde
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Beautiful and sweet! Full of opportunities for inference.
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
In this exceptional picture book, Zola moves in next door to a little girl. The two mothers have already met and decided the girls should be friends, but the little girl knows that Zola already has a friend. After all, Zola has a box large enough for an elephant and the girl knows that elephants make wonderful friends. As the girl heads different noises, she also thinks about the fun that Zola is having with her elephant. They are taking merry baths together, playing hide-and-seek, and building ...more
Christine Turner
Note: School Library Journal recommends this book for pre-school through grade 2. The illustrations are lovely and are symbolic of the feeling children often feel when they deal with changes in their lives. Given this depth, I would recommend that it is read in small groups or one-one-one.

Illustrated by two-time Caldecott-honor winning artist Pamela Zagarenski, this tender, witty friendship story of imagination gone wild, by New York Times bestselling author Randall de Sève, shows how as
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
Zola’s Elephant by Randall De Seve, Illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski. PICTURE BOOK. Houghton . 2018. $18.00. 9781328886293



A sad lonely little girl notices something new going on in her building. A new family is moving in and they have a little girl her age, named Zola. This lonely girl takes bit of things she see’s and hears and imagines a plethora of reasons why Zola would not need or want her as a friend. Eventually Zola comes to
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Friendship is a very special topic for children. This story will appeal to the young reader who understands the need for a friend. When the female narrator has a new neighbor, she imagines what the girl Zola is doing. Does she have an elephant for a pet? The narrator imagines all sorts of adventures for her neighbor. The reader can see what Zola is actually doing in her new home. The ending of the story is heart warming! The author Randall de Seve has captured the true meaning of friendship. The ...more
Oct 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: preschool-3rd grade
A girl imagines the new neighbors have an elephant -- she loves elephants so surely that is what is in the large moving box. The art showing the girl imaging the elephant in the box is sprinkled with faint words -- believe, magic, dreams love, peace, friends. The imaginations are fun -- the new neighbor girl is making toast to feed her elephant and the art is colorful before turning the page to a sad looking girl eating toast by herself in a gray-blue room with boxes. The narrator looks like a s ...more
Ms Threlkeld
Dec 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Mixed media illustrations immediately draw readers in to this sweet story about misconceptions and new friendship. The narrator is watching a new family move in to the neighborhood and is convinced that Zola, the young girl in the family, is too busy playing with her pet elephant to bother making a new friend. How does she know Zola has a pet elephant? Well, she sees large boxes, smells toast (everyone know that's what elephants love to eat), hears loud noises, and more. After each observation b ...more
e.  ellor
Readers of any age can relate to sitting alone, sure that everyone else is off having fun without you, rather than just going and introducing yourself. In Zola's Elephant, that universal sentiment makes an utterly unique picture book. It is the story of a girl with a big imagination, and how she finally builds up the courage to go next door and make a new friend.

The main characters voice is so vibrant and compelling, and is then juxtaposed with a wordless pages that make both the words and the
Reviewed for the Mock Caldecott Awards. This is a wonderful, fantastical book with amazing and beautiful illustrations. A new neighbor moves in. The mothers of the children have met and think their children should be friends but the local child is shy of meeting the new neighbor, Zola. She sees a huge box being moved into the house and decides that Zola has her own pet elephant. Based only on the noises she hears from next store, she imagines all the fun things that Zola and her elephant are par ...more
Jan 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: best_2018_jp
School Library Journal - Best of 2018 Picture Books List

A new neighbor named Zola has moved in next door. The other neighbor sees a big box being moved and immediately dreams it is an elephant. Noises and smells are noticed from next door and are thought to be related to Zola's elephant. At the end, the neighbor goes next door to Zola's house. There is no elephant - just new friends.

This is a brightly-colored story filled with imagination. The storyline is cute and clever.

Recommended for ages
Raven Black
Oct 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
The story is 3.5 and the illustrations a 4. The story has an usual feel of being classic, modern, European and American all at once. It has no real time frame of when it is set, but has a very "today" feel to it. The whole book also has a combination of surreal and solid realism, too. Part dream and part wide-awake the story might be better for older children and adults. I am not sure if the under 5 crowd would grasp the contrast of what the narrator thinks is happening and what is really happen ...more
Nov 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Gorgeous gorgeous illustrations and a celebration of imagination and being brave enough to take the first step.

I especially enjoyed the contrasting pages showing what one girl thought was happening and then what was actually happening. The puzzle of the big box was a fun addition too. The experience of being reluctant to make that first approach to a new child is a universal one and the rewarding new friendship is delightfully depicted.

This is a really felicitous matching of author, illustrator
Jan 14, 2019 rated it liked it
I found myself unreasonably worried about poor Zola - especially when the narrator hears "thumping and yelling" after already showing Zola looking sad, depressed, and lonely while washing dishes. Oh my, are her parents fighting?? (No, they're not. It's just the movers.)
But at any rate, I didn't really think it was all that "funny" that the narrator didn't want to go make friends because Zola doesn't neeeeeed friends because she's busy having all this fun with her elephant. I'm *very* glad the tw
Oct 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
The text and illustrations blend together to create this story. A new girl moves in next door. The other girl wants to go over but has a vivid imagination about her life with her pet elephant - the only thing that could come in the huge box. The contrast between the bright colored imaginative pages and the reality of Zola's life are terrific.
She finally goes over and discovers what's truly happening in the move. They become friends and set off together with their imaginations.
Laura G
I love the alternating pages and perspectives
—between the narrator (who is sure that her new neighbor doesn’t need a new friend because she already has an elephant for a friend) and her new neighbor, Zola. The whimsical illustrations paint 2 very different pictures of what is going on in each girl’s mind. Lovely message about friendship.
Dec 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picturebook
There are lots of picture books aimed at the kid who has to move, this one is from the POV of the girl who has a new neighbor move in. She must not really want her to come over, as she already has her own elephant to play with, right? Lots of details to pore over, and the imaginative misconception can lead to lots of discussions (an hopefully, empathy).
Jan 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-book
The illustration style isn't my favorite, but I really liked the story--how the narrator imagines all the fun her new neighbor Zola is having with the elephant that is the only thing that could be in the giant box that arrives, contrasted with the not-so-fun things Zola is actually doing. Happily, the two finally meet!
This is better left for everyone to read and be pleasantly surprised. It will be grand to read aloud to a group of young readers, to celebrate and love Pamela Zagarenski's fabulous illustrations and the way Randall de Sève takes a few words, building the suspense to see Zola's elephant. I enjoyed it very much.
Oct 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
In the course of flipping through this, the picture of Zola at the sink looking oh-so-lonely stopped me in my tracks and made me go back and read it thoroughly from the beginning. The story itself is okay, but the illustrations are *very* effective at presenting the contrast between imagination and reality.
Chris Hays
Apr 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: children, realistic
If you need a book about moving/changes and friendship this might be it. The message is very subtle and I think students will pick it up if you do not tell them what it is about. The artwork is very well done.
Nov 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
A wonderful picture book to share with your little ones. A little girl imagines that her new neighbor Zola is too busy with her elephant to spend time with her. A beautifully rendered story about imagination and friendship. Recommended!
Dec 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Zola moves in next door and a little girl is convinced that she has an elephant. Zola and the Elephant do everything together so Zola won't have time for her next door neighbor. But to her surprise, Zola knocks on her door and a new friendship begins.
Dec 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful story about our misperceptions of others and how important it is to reach out to each other. A wonderful story to teach children about courage and compassion. And the illustrations are gorgeous!
Lynn  Davidson
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
A girl watching new neighbours move in next door, imagines the new girl - Zola - is busy with her pet elephant, so it's not a good time to visit. When she finally gets up the courage to visit Zola, she finds out something wonderful. Elaborate and colourful illustrations.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Colette's Lost Pet
  • Elmore
  • Big Friends
  • Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have a Horse
  • Claymates
  • Boo Who?
  • Night Job
  • Der Besuch
  • Dream Friends
  • I Walk with Vanessa: A Story about a Simple Act of Kindness
  • Good Rosie
  • Me And My Fear
  • A Parade of Elephants
  • Pig and Small
  • Sam, the Most Scaredy-cat Kid in the Whole World
  • Eat Pete!
  • Hoot & Olive: Brave Enough For Two
  • Thank You, Omu!