Emma Kate and her best friend do everything together, even though one of them is an elephant and the other a human girl. They walk to school, go to soccer, have sleepovers, do homework, and read together. They even have their tonsils out together! Emma Kate and her best friend are so inseparable readers will find the twist at the end surprising and amusing. Spoiler alert: Emma Kate is the little girl, not the elephant!
Polacco’s pencil and watercolor illustrations render an incredibly detailed world in smudgy soft-focus. Color is used sparingly and usually it’s only Emma Kate’s bright red and green dress that colors the page. The text, written in first person present tense, is deceptively simple. The text and illustrations are so cleverly laid out that readers won’t guess the twist until the very last page.
After you read the story, ask the kids if they think Emma Kate is real or imaginary and why. Did any of them guess the twist at the end? If so, what clued them into the real identity of Emma Kate? Did they notice that the title on the cover and the endpapers are colored in the same pattern as Emma Kate's dress?
Use this book as part of an elephant storytime and pair it with My Cat, the Silliest Cat in the World, The Thingamabob or Elmer. Try rhymes such as, An Elephant and the classic, One Little Elephant. Follow up with an easy elephant handprint craft.
You could also pair this book with Horton Hatches the Egg. If you look closely at the illustration of the two friends reading on the sofa, you'll see that Emma Kate is reading this Dr. Seuss book. On her website, Polacco credits this book as one of her inspirations.
Check out Patricia Polacco’s webpage about this book. Kids can send an Emma Kate e-card or print off a poster or bookmark.