I have found that children who tend to a garden, farm, orchard, etc., better understand and appreciate the food they consume. If you have children who might shy away from veggies, consider planting and managing a garden together.
As I was reading Eka and the Elephants with my youngest, I noticed she was very fascinated with the girl on each page, what she was doing, and wanted to mimic her actions. She was more invested in that than the overall story. That wasn't a bad thing, she was engaging with the story, so I was pleased. I believe an older child will like every aspect of the book more than a (barely) three-year-old. BTW: I couldn't locate a recommended age group, but I suspect it's meant for someone a wee bit older. I could be wrong. Since I received an advance copy, not yet visible on Amazon when I wrote this, I can only make an educated guess.
As for the overall writing, I loved the mental image certain lines painted in my mind, such as "the shoots looked like little green hands waving hello" and "they had long tendrils, like octopus legs reaching out in all directions."
I also liked the bit of trivia information weaved into the story, "Did you know elephants can eat seven times as much food, and drink five times as much water as a human? And elephants don't like bees, even though they're at least a hundred times bigger!" A fascinating tidbit to share with your friends!
The illustrations by Cristian Gheorghita were outstanding. We adored the purple elephants. As an extended activity, we counted all the animals we could find. We talked about a vegetable or flower garden that would be more fun to grow. She chose a flower, of course. We made plans to start on our garden. So, while my youngest's attention span wavered here and there, they did enjoy reading it. They are excited about our weekend plans of starting a mini garden, so this book is MOM approved. Daughter approved.
—Reedsy ( Kameron Brook)
It is the perfect time of year for planting, and Eka and her siblings have an excellent plan for a garden. Together, the family prepares the soil, plants the seeds, and waits for the first green shoots to emerge from the ground. As more vegetables develop, Eka begins to notice that some of them have been munched on by something other than her family members. This realization leads to a dynamic and exciting dream that, while not truly taking place, ultimately leads Eka and her family on an adventure to make a charming new friend. This newest installment in the Dance it Out series by Once Upon a Dance blends the fantasy of a dreamscape with reality in a beautiful and engaging manner. On each page, the writing not only directs the plot, but it does so in a way that encourages movement in a natural and easy to visualize format. The enjoyable narrative gives elementary school-aged readers an accessible story that pairs beautifully with the illustrations. Unlike many of the other books in this collection, this story features painted images that have a cartoon-like quality and play with lighting and shading among the myriad details that are included in each scene. Vibrant colors and soft lines make the illustrations appealing to readers of all ages, no matter their connection with the text. Like the other books in this series, a segment on each page describes movement possibilities while offering readers questions that stretch beyond the narrative. Whether read together or separately, the three components of this book encourage imaginative discovery and exploratory movement to both support gross motor development and give readers new ways to engage with the books they read. This is a delightful addition to this Dance it Out series and is a great story to share with dancers of all ages.
—Mary Lanni, Independent Librarian Reviewer
Once Upon a Dance and Leah Irby’s delightful latest in the Dance-It-Out series celebrates the arts and creativity, while inciting the love of gardening. Eka and her family are excited to start a new garden. As vegetables begin to grow, Eka notices some of the vegetables are missing. Will Eka find a way to save her garden? The authors’ crisp prose deftly balances the main storyline with Ballerina Konora’s dance lessons, bringing whimsy to a familiar story. As Eka and her family work their way through gardening, Konora glides across the pages, inviting youngsters to tiptoe, leap, roll, squat, jump among others physical activities through her ballet positions. Her dance movements correspond with the family’s gardening movements. Cristian Gheorghita’s playful, animated illustrations enchant readers, immersing them in the authors’ vivid imagination. This will have readers picking up their garden gloves to carry out some serious gardening work.
—The Prairie Book Review