'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Monday 17 June 2019

Review: What Shape is an Elephant?

A story from the 13th Century Persian poet and spiritual leader Rumi has been given new life in this exquisite picture book from Indian non-profit organisation Katha.

The fable tells of travellers from India who bought an elephant to a fair in the land of Iran. Night had fallen when they reached the fairground so the animal was locked in a shed.

The people of Iran, who had never seen an elephant before, were curious and crept into the dark shed. Unable to see the animal, they used their hands to feel different parts of the elephant, trying to make out the shape in their mind. For some it was smooth and flat, for some it was long and supple, and for others it was thick and sturdy.

This mystical story about a spiritual animal throughout many different religions seeks to explain why people have differing notions about life. It highlights the need to look beyond what we can touch in the palm of our hand, to see more than what is in front of us.

The poetic and spiritual nature of the story is open for interpretation and a wonderful way to open up discussions of deeper concepts.

The many layers of the story are captured stunningly in the illustrations of Iranian artist Feeroozeh Golmohammadi, who uses black and brown ancient-style backgrounds punctuated with rich, vibrant colours and patterns for the people and elephant.

It's a story that promotes reflection, inclusion, imagination and spiritual awareness.

Title: What Shape is an Elephant?
Author: Rumi
Illustrator: Feeroozeh Golmohammadi
Publisher: Katha , $19.99
Publication Date: 2005
Format: Hard Cover
ISBN: 9788189020484
For ages: 4+
Type: Picture Book