The White Elephant by Sid Fleischman

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How can a beautiful white elephant be a terrible curse?

Run-Run, a young elephant trainer, discovers the answer when he incurs the fury of the prince. The boy's punishment? The gift of an elephant, white as a cloud. From that moment forward, the curse reveals itself. According to tradition, so rare an elephant cannot be allowed to work for its keep. It is poor Run-Run who must feed the beast the hundreds of pounds of food it eats each day, and scrub it clean, and brush its pom-pom of a tail, and wash behind its ears, and, above all, keep it from doing any work.

Oh, if only Run-Run could make the magnificent white elephant disappear! Clever as a magician, he does—but the curse has tricks of its own for Run-Run.


About Sid Fleischman

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Sid Fleischman was born in Brooklyn, New York on March 16, 1920 but grew up in San Diego, California. He loved all things magical and toured professionally as a magician until the beginning of World War II. During the war, he served in the U.S. Naval Reserve, and afterwards, he graduated from San Diego State University in 1949. After graduation, he worked as a reporter with the San Diego Daily Journal. After the paper folded in 1950, he started writing fiction. He tried his hand at children's books because his own children often wondered what their father did. To show them how he created stories, he wrote them a book. He wrote more than 50 fiction and nonfiction works during his lifetime including The Abracadabra Kid: A Writer's Life; Escape! The Story of the Great Houdini; The Trouble Begins at 8: A Life of Mark Twain in the Wild, Wild West; The Thirteenth Floor; and The Ghost in the Noonday Sun. His book, The Whipping Boy, won the Newberry Award in 1987. He is the father of Newbery Medal winning writer and poet Paul Fleischman; they are the only father and son to receive Newbery awards. He also wrote screenplays including Lafayette Escadrille, Blood Alley, and The Whipping Boy. He died from cancer on March 17, 2010 at the age of 90. Peter Sis was born in Brno, Czechoslovakia, in 1949 and attended the Academy of Applied Arts in Prague and the Royal College of Art in London. He began his career as a filmmaker and won the Golden Bear Award at the 1980 West Berlin Film Festival for an animated short. He has also won the Grand Prix Toronto and the Cine Golden Eagle Award, and in 1983 collaborated with Bob Dylan on You Got to Serve Somebody. His film work is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. In 1982 Sis was sent to Los Angeles to produce a film for the 1984 Winter Olympics. But the film project was canceled when Czechoslovakia and the entire Eastern bloc decided to boycott the Olympics. Ordered by his government to return home, Sis decided to stay in the United States and was granted asylum. Sis then met Maurice Sendak who introduced him to children's books, and he moved to New York City in 1984 to begin a career in children's literature. Sís earned quick acclaim with the publication of the 1986 Newbery Medal Winner, The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleishman, for which he did the illustrations. Sis is a five-time winner of The New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Book of the Year.. Komodo! and A Small Tall Tale from the Far Far North were each named a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor Book, and he has won a Society of Illustrators Gold Medal for Komodo! and a Silver Medal for The Three Golden Keys. Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei was a 1997 Caldecott Honor Book, as was Tibet Through the Red Box. Sis has also received a MacArthur Fellowship Sis' editorial illustrations have appeared in Time, Newsweek, Esquire, The Atlantic Monthly, and many other magazines in the United States and abroad. He has published nearly 1,000 drawings in The New York Times Book Review. He has designed many book jackets and posters, including, in 1984, the famous poster for Milos Forman's Academy Award-winning motion picture Amadeus. He has also completed a mural for the Washington/Baltimore Airport, a poster for the New York City subway system, and a stage set for the Joffrey Ballet. His work has been exhibited in Prague, London, Zurich, Hamburg, Los Angeles, and New York in both group and one-man shows.
Published December 10, 2009 by Greenwillow Books. 112 pages
Genres: Humor & Entertainment, Nature & Wildlife, Children's Books, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Punishment becomes reward in this original tale, set in "old Siam" and loosely related to the historical origins of the modern metaphor.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of The White Elephant


This is the origin for the term "white elephant gift exchange" --- the gift of an unwanted burden was the gift of the white elephant.

Oct 01 2006 | Read Full Review of The White Elephant

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