The Biggest Shadow in the Zoo
Jack Kent ~ Parent's Magazine Press, 1981
It seems as if every time I turn around another Kent (happily) pops up. The cool thing about having a four-year-old who gets read to a lot is that when we get a new book, if the illustrator has been on our shelf in some other form before, he can basically tell you who illustrated it just by looking at it. And he knows lots of the writers names too so whenever we start a new book he reels off whatever else that person has written. Neat to watch. I am raising a future librarian or bookseller! (Like many a tiny bookstore now, I remember back to the days of bookselling before computers when the stock was all in your head. And if you were lucky, you had microfiche to tell you if the distributor at least carried it! But as usual, I digress.) So yes... my son can pick out the Jack Kent books from a lineup. It's the little things that make me proud.
That said... As you know, we love all things Jack Kent in this house. Even the later books like this one, and I have to say, the plot here is ingeniously funny.
Goober was an elephant who lived at the zoo. Goober was very special. At least HE thought so. All the other animals lived in cages or behind bars. Goober lived on an island with a moat around it. But that wasn't why Goober thought he was special.
Yes, yes. There are a medley of reasons why Goober could be special, but it ends up the thing he's most proud of is the wide girth of his shadow. And because of that girth, he thought rather highly of the shadow itself.
Goober was very fond of his shadow. And his shadow seemed fond of Goober. They were always together. They were very good friends.
But one day, when Goober's shadow falls in his moat, Goober is heartbroken. He stands there for days and days watching it, but it won't move out of the water. When on a cloudy day, he finally decides it must have drowned, he is devastated. It is only until a doctor's lamp reveals the shadow's true whereabouts that the spirits of our hero are restored and all is made right again. A delightful (and adorably non-narcissistic) take on the Narcissus tale. On the 'About the Author' page in the back of the book, there is a silly little quote from Kent, further confirming his wonderful child's-eye-view of the world...
Mr. Kent says, "Like Goober, I have noticed that my shadow is only around on nice, sunshiny days. On rainy days, when I'd like to have some company, my shadow is nowhere to be found. It's probably curled up in some nice, dry place, waiting for the rain to stop."
Jack Kent's Twelve Days of Christmas
I Was Walking Down the Road
The Grown-Up Day
The Fox and the Crow
The Animobile Book
Jack Kent's Book of Nursery Tales
Dooly and the Snortsnoot
Cindy Lou and the Witch's Dog
Jack Kent's Valentine Sticker Book
The Bremen-town Musicians
Just Only John
Fly Away Home
Piggy Bank Gonzales
Socks for Supper
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