Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Hey everybody, sorry for the late post... but alas, long days do that to a momma. That said, I'm psyched to offer up another edition of The Great Readers Write starring longtime reader Swati, all the way from India. Remember, you too can guest post here at VKBMKLs about a favorite vintage children's book by following the instructions here. Anyways... enjoy!

Stand Back Said The Elephant I'm Going To Sneeze
Patricia Thomas ~ Wallace Tripp ~ Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1971

I have a 1971 copy of "Stand Back," Said the Elephant, "I'm Going to Sneeze!" which is great fun to read. The illustrations are all in ink, with dashes of solid colour on some pages, but they still charm. The verse is tantalizingly fast paced and pretty imaginative. It begins with a plain black and white drawing of an upright elephant apparently taking a deep breath before sneezing -

"Stand back," said the elephant,
"I'm going to sneeze!
I hate to alarm you,
But I don't wish to harm you..
My friends, I fear
It's clear.....
Oh, dear,
You'd better stand back, I'm going to sneeze."

The alarmed buffalo complains, among other things,

"Your sneezes send
everyone flying along,
Bumping and thumping down pathway and trail,
Bouncing and jouncing
head over tail,
Tumbling and bumbling...."

A shocked colony of monkeys talk of the last time they were blown right out of the trees, squawking birds remember how every feather was lost, and

"... all the whales
Had peacock's tails,
And the wings of the cockatoo
Were stuck on the kangaroo."

The poor elephant desperately tries to knot his trunk and stop the sneeze as bees remind him of how their stings had to be replaced with rose thorns and glue, and the bear does a double take at the memory of spending "the whole winter in long underwear", his hair having been blown off when the alligator's snout had been "turned inside out" and the giraffe was bent in half. Crocodiles, flies and fishes join the chorus with their woes. The zebra cries "You'll blow off my stripes" and the hippopotamus is afraid

"A lot of us
Will fall right on our bottom-us"

The elephant however, with sincere regret, is unable to hold the sneeze in any longer, and the animals are stampeding away as - well, let us just say something happens, and the elephant finds

"As I live and breathe!
I don't think I really have to sneeze."

Instead, he begins to giggle, and the giggle becomes a chortle, which enlarges into belly shaking, knee buckling, rolling on the ground laughter. And what do you suppose happens then? Exactly what everyone had been afraid of! Monkeys tumble out, stings fall, feathers fly, hair and scales come off, stripes run away, and

"...the hippo went thump
Right on his plump...you-know-what!"

It is a hilarious story, one which is meant to be read aloud to the accompaniment of much chuckling and bright-eyed anticipatory laughter.

Also by:
Sir Toby Jingle's Beastly Journey


Sea Star said...

My kids LOVE this book. I found it on the used book shelf at the library years ago and bought it for 10 cents because my daughter loves animals so much. We read and reread this one all the time. The rhymes are such fun to read!

Swati said...

I am tickled pink to be here, on vintage books. Thank you for the opportunity :)

Megan said...

I can't believe that my childhood books are vintage! Wow. My parents still have our copy at home and we read it with my children when we visit. Good memories!

Chris said...

My favorite book when I was but a wee lad. I'm 46 now.

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