The Elephant by Peter Carnavas (UQP)
The Elephant is a sensitive, exquisitely formed novel about grief, told both in words and black-and-white illustrations. Since the death of her mother, Olive’s father has ‘raincloud eyes’ and is cloaked in a weary sorrow. Olive sees a big grey elephant shadowing him and blocking him from engaging in her life. She is supported by her friend Arthur who tries to help her chase the elephant away and by her grandfather who keeps the home running but also creates special moments to nurture her soul and imagination.
The writing is exemplary, from the elephant as a metaphor for grief to Olive’s grandfather who ‘rubs out the grey parts of my day and fills them in with colour’. Other symbols and images depict friendship, family, music and beauty. Despite the weighty and heart-wrenching theme, this is a tale of hope and love. Olive is resilient and The Elephant is ultimately life-affirming, colourful and joyous.