Hello, friends! Last review of the year! Today, we’re taking a look at When Nilly Met Nelly, The Hungry Hungry Ele, written by Giavanna Grein and illustrated by Amelia Grace Gossman.
Our story begins in India, where little Nilly lives with her family on their banana farm. Nilly takes great pride in her job of tending to and guarding the banana plants. One day, she comes upon an adorable baby elephant munching on bananas, and though she tries to shoo her away, the little “ele” only wants to play. Introducing herself as Nelly, the calf explains that her herd has limited food sources, so when she saw the bananas, she couldn’t help herself. Nilly understands, and decides that since Nelly only eats a few bananas, it couldn’t hurt. That is, until the next day, when Nelly returns… along with her mother and sister. Then again, with more and more of her herd. Soon the banana farm is being striped bare! Can Nilly reclaim her family’s banana farm, yet still help the elephants find food?
This tale of unlikely friendship and wildlife encroachment starts off strong, and finishes okay. Nilly eventually helps establish a feeding trail for the elephants so that Nelly’s family can eat without damaging her farm. The issues with this indie title arise in the pacing and characterization. Simply put, Nelly is a rather bad friend – hungry or not, she repeatedly lies to and takes advantage of Nilly. What’s more, in a sequence in which Nilly attempts to stop the elephants from entering her farm, the elephants mount a full-on invasion, circumventing trenches and smashing fences, seemingly with no remorse. If they had simply been portrayed as wild animals, this would have been understandable, but by giving them speech and human qualities, it just makes them seem like jerks. The text also loses its rhythm often, making it a little tough to read aloud. The illustrations are quite nice, however, featuring an expressive main character and some lovely elephant art. The length is okay, though on the side of long, but JJ enjoyed it for the most part. Despite a flawed execution, this one has good intentions, and is worth a look for elephant lovers. Baby Bookworm approved!
(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the author in exchange for an honest review.)