Ellie is written and illustrated by animator Mike Wu and published by Hyperion (2015).

The zookeeper shares the sad news that the zoo is closing. The animals decide they must do something, but what? Lucy, the giraffe, prunes the trees; Gerard, the ape, moves big rocks and the penguins clean the glass. But Ellie, the baby elephant, is so small. What can she do?

She just happens to pick up the zookeeper’s paint brush and she paints pictures of everything from sunflowers to all of her friends. It’s wonderful! People, even the mayor, come to the zoo to have the now famous Ellie paint their portraits. The zoo is no longer in danger of closing and Ellie never thinks of herself as too small again. She is far too busy painting.

Wu’s depiction of the animals and people is child-friendly. His watercolor illustrations definitely co-ordinate with the text, moving the zoo from a place of pale greens, grays, and blues to a colorful place now bright and cheerful.

This book would add more than a dash of color to your life. It would be one that your child would ask to have read over and over again. Who knows? Your child might find a spare brush and become like Ellie.

Carol Green, a graduate of Northwestern, is the mother of three adult children. Her five grandchildren affectionately call her “Grams cracker.” She is the published author of many poems for both adults and children; three coloring books: God Gave Me Five, ABC Fun Book, and Color God’s World Bright; and the picture book: My Mom Loves Me.

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