Strictly No Elephants, written by Lisa Mantchev and illustrated by Taeeun Yoo, is a poignant story about friendship and fitting in. A boy and his pet elephant are off to the Pet Club. But when they arrive, they find a “Strictly No Elephants” sign hanging on the door. They are not welcome.
Turns out, they aren’t the only ones. They find a girl and her pet skunk who aren’t welcome at the Pet Club either. Together they create a club where their sign reads “All are welcome.”
This story touched my heart, and I could easily think of a million ways others could relate. Everyone wants to feel included. Everyone needs friends to lift each other over cracks, coax each other along, brave the scary things together, to never leave one another behind.
As Thanksgiving approaches, this story made me think about my ever growing children’s book writing world where the sign always reads “All are welcome.” I’m so thankful for that.
I’m grateful for the shared knowledge, opportunities, and camaraderie from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), The Highlights Foundation workshops, Writers Digest online workshops, KidLit Facebook groups, and my two amazing critique groups. And the never ending support of friends and loved ones. Especially my fiancé and first editor, Allen.
I’ll be keeping Strictly No Elephants and its ever important messages of friendship and inclusivity close to my heart as I munch on my turkey dinner, mingle with friends and family, write my stories, and walk amongst the wonderful variety of people in this world. Will you join me?