Yet another triumphant experiment for the award-winning Timmers.

The New York Times, Best Children's Books of 2022

Elephant Island

The Times Children’s Book of the Week
Selected for The New York Times Best Children’s Books of 2022
Picture Book finalist, Teach Early Years Awards 2022

A shipwrecked elephant makes his tiny island a home for the many friends who come to the rescue, in the new picture book from New York Times Illustrated Book Award winning author.

Caught in a storm, Arnold the elephant washes up on a tiny island. Along comes Mouse in a little dingy and Arnold steps aboard…uh-oh! They use the wreckage to make the island bigger. And here’s Dog—can this boat take Arnold’s weight? Uh-oh!

None of the animals can save the shipwrecked elephant but each broken vessel provides new materials for another intricate construction. Wheels and pulleys create a Ferris wheel, an elevator, a waffle maker. All the animals work as a team to build increasingly intricate constructions that turn the desert island into a fun park city. Soon there is a whole community and enough space for everyone!

As with all Leo Timmers picture books, Elephant Island has many layers of discovery. Tapping into the childhood pleasure of contraptions, this cheerful picture book is full of complex and playful visual detail and humour that Leo Timmers’ readers love. Preschoolers who enjoy Meccano and Lego will find joy on every page with the creation of each new imaginative construction, packed with mechanical detail on bright double page spreads. Elephant Island is a runaway hit in Europe.

Translated by James Brown.

Look inside video | Author Q&A | Book trailer

Ebook available wherever you buy your ebooks

  • Book Details

    Country of Origin Belgium
    Reader Age 2-5 year
    Book Size

  • Reviews

    1. Teach Early Years Awards

      Picture Book finalist, Teach Early Years Awards 2022

  • Reviews

    1. Puget Sound Council for the Review of Children’s and Young Adult Literature

      Superior book everyone should buy.

    2. Boing Boing

      An enchanting and inspiring book with crisp, colorful, and animated illustrations that pop from the pages.

    3. School Library Journal

      The sheer inventiveness of the entire endeavor is to be commended. Come for the elephant. Stay for his island.

    4. Book Riot

      2022 Must-Read Picture Books
      The physical comedy portrayed through the illustrations is what will truly delight readers.

    5. The Listener

      Top 50 Kids Books 2022
      Perhaps the best yet from Leo Timmers.

    6. Children’s Books Ireland

      Timmers’s illustrations are beautiful, vivid and full of feeling. The text is charming and easy to read and works with the illustration to enrich the story.

    7. Global Literature in Libraries Initiative

      If you’re looking for a book that will put a big smile on your face, steer a course for Elephant Island. It’s a wonderful place to be!

    8. Read Plus

      A wonderful story of problem solving and innovation, the lengths the elephant goes to try and build his island will intrigue and delight all readers—highly recommended.

    9. Through the Bookshelf

      Although on the surface this is a simple story, ‘Elephant Island’ could also be viewed as a modern day fable, full of messages and meaning, making it thought provoking as well as full of fun!

    10. Emma Wood, Otago Daily Times

      The playful illustrations reward close inspection as Arnold and the animals construct ever more elaborate structures and enjoy the fruits of their labour.

    11. YA Books Central

      A book with a message that everyone needs to hear.

    12. Donovan’s Literary Services

      A zany and intriguing title.

    13. Swings & Roundabouts

      The book’s vibrant and busy visuals alone will capture young imaginations as they discover more on each read.

    14. Reading Rockets, Summer Reading Guide

      A unique nautical tall tale.

    15. National Library of New Zealand

      With Leo Timmers’ trademark quirky humour, Elephant Island is a masterclass in optimism & resourcefulness!

    16. The New York Times

      Yet another triumphant experiment for the award-winning Timmers

    17. My Storytime Corner Instagram

      The whole premise of the elephant on this tiny little rock in the middle of the ocean is comedic perfection.

    18. Luminous Libro

      The story is so funny that it had me giggling several times, but it is also heartwarming.

    19. Napier Courier

      It’s a colourful world of creation, packed with detail kids will love.

    20. Love reading lit fest

      I always keep an eye out for Leo Timmers’ book because I think they are just delightful. Elephant Island just a stunning fable for kindness, for bringing people together, to be enjoyed again and again and again. Everytime I read it I notice another detail or some other great idea, some feat of engineering that I absolutely love.

    21. Outside In World

      Another clever and hilarious creation from Leo Timmers

    22. Just Imagine

      Elephant Island is a great example of how picturebooks can invite children to philosophise and think deeply, without ever needing to tiptoe into a ‘teacherish’ didactic tone. Silly and profound. Funny and poignant. Perilous but optimistic.

    23. Reading Time – Children’s Book Council of Australia

      Barbro Lindgren touches on the very human need to connect showing a longing that is heartbreaking. Her timeless text combines effortlessly with the moody illustrations by Eva Ericksson, capturing the yearning and melancholy of a tiny man with a big heart.

    24. Lancashire Post

      Get ready to laugh at the lines and marvel at the stunning illustrations as award-winning Belgian author and illustrator Leo Timmers works his special magic on another stellar picture book which inspires youngsters to build on teamwork… and have fun in the process!

    25. Red Reading Hub

      With a deliciously un-self aware, but hugely adept constructor as its main character and a splendidly silly story to star in, Leo Timmers’ illustrations steal the show. Every one is a testament to creative play and collaborative construction, increasingly full of wacky detail to pore over and giggle at. I can see Arnold’s tale becoming a storytime favourite.

    26. Scope for Imagination

      Fantastically fun and full of detail, children will love looking at every page of this super book.

    27. What Book Next

      This would be one of my favourite Leo Timmer’s picture books. There is humour, animals, kindness, resilience, and friendship. What’s not to love?

    28. The Scotsman

      A fascinating and funny tale of a shipwrecked elephant, with a plethora of brilliantly detailed boats for little ones to pore over.

    29. The Listener

      Leo Timmers never ceases to delight. This story abounds in maritime references as a pachyderm with a built-in snorkel keeps putting his foot in it.

    30. The Times Children’s Book of the Week

      A refutation for anyone who thinks their island is too full to accommodate outsiders.

    31. The Kids Bookstagrammer

      The artwork is gorgeous, with its beautiful tones of blue and colourful spreads of the expanded island.

    32. My Shelves Are Full

      The bright and bold use of colours is gorgeous and with little in the background to distract, all eyes are on the island as it grows!

    33. Booklist

      The tender yet dynamic verbal and visual narrative never falters in this engaging picture book.

    34. Paula Green, Poetry Box

      Elephant Island is like a fabulous fable that might be about conservation, or refugees, or human connections and kindness, or community survival. It is also a terrific story for the sake of story and I love it to bits.

    35. Seattle Book Review

      Every page is filled with delightful details that will have little ones searching the pages for all the fun to be found there. This has “Read it again” written all over it. Don’t miss it.

    36. The Boswellians

      Charming illustrations and a creative way to find the silver lining make Elephant Island a wonderful picture book addition to your library.

    37. Bob’s Books Blog

      A work of genius. As always with Timmer’s books there is always hope and nobody gets left behind.

    38. Foreword Reviews, Starred

      The colors and clever details are electrifying. This light-tension, winking tale of a makeshift homecoming is sure to delight audiences at story time.

    39. Publishers Weekly

      It’s a picture book tribute to the power of collective, constructive play, and to heeding the call of freedom.

Available worldwide from your local bookstore or online.

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