Before anything else, this (full screen!):
Ellie’s endpapers start us off like this: long and lonely and barren.
We learn quickly why the zoo was so sullen and gray. Because the story happened visually, to start, we don’t need to linger in introductions and routines and the way of this world.
But a small elephant isn’t a tall giraffe or a burly gorilla.
She’s just Ellie.
Does she see it? Do you?
Linked by color and purpose and quite possibly definition, this happens next:
Watching and waiting, a wise little elephant.
But now we get to see through them, and I’d bet a reader’s eyes do the same awe-pop that hers must be doing right now. That’s something I’m sure is true.
And here’s where I’d recommend finding a copy of this yourself, because the final spreads are something you should see and feel through your own eyes. But be sure to notice the back endpapers and their stark difference to the front. The progress is literally told in colors.
This book is rectangular, and so open, it’s an expanse. That trim size gives the zoo a little room to breathe, to extend, to become the physicality of Ellie’s journey. There’s space in that shape, space in the story.
Mike Wu’s film background (did you notice the zookeeper’s name?) may have influenced that trim size. What we call trim size they call aspect ratio, and aspect ratios in film are far from the standard definition of once upon a time.
Maybe? I don’t know. But I’d guarantee a visual storyteller thinks of those things, and it’s for us to appreciate, to wonder about, and to call beautiful.
I received a review copy of Ellie directly from the author, but all opinions are my own.