Sookie, the baby elephant is a happy little one. He danced doing the one-two-three-kick! Unmindful of the trees or bushes that fell about Sooki danced his days away. That is until, a parrot tells Sooki that is completely out of propotion everywhere. His ears are too big, the nose way too long and his skin just never seems to fit him. The Saggy Baggy Elephant by Bryan Jackson and illustrated by Gustaf Tenggren tells the remarkable tale of displaced self-esteem through Sooki’s story.
Sookis happy bubble is broken. The poor elephant is keen to improve, but the nasty parrot has no suggestions. Sooki tries to make his skin tighter by lifting it all up, but he ends up looking worse. Tummy tucks are no good for Sooki.
A tiger offers to help by eating a few pounds off Sooki. The little elephant runs for her life and ends up in a pool. He hopes his skin will shrink as the parrot suggests. Instead Sooki catches the eye of a crocodile who smacks its jaws looking at Sooki’s tender ears.
Sooki runs again to hide in a cave, but encounters a hungry lion. The lion laments:
“I’m hungry!”, roared the lion. “I haven’t had a thing to eat today. Not a thing except a thin bony antelope and a puny monkey – and a buffalo, but such a tough one! And two turtles. There’s nothing to eat between those saucers they wear for clothes! “I’m hungry! I Could eat an elephant!”
“This is the end of me, sags, bags, wrinkles and all”, thought Sooki, and he let out one last trumpeting bellow!
Sooki is rescued by a herd of elephants who hear his call. Gone are lion and parrot. Sooki is awestruck by these large, beautiful animals who were ‘the most beautiful creatures he had ever seen’.
The herd of elephants tell Sooki that he too is an elephant. Sooki is so happy that he does the one-two-three kick dance all through the jungle, leading the way for the elephant herd.
Sooki reminds us that we often forget how beautiful we are, the way we are. We worry that we don’t have tighter skin or smaller ears when in fact we are glorious, being who we are. Like Sooki we must embrace ourselves and do the one-two-three kick, celebrating our uniqueness and beauty.
The Saggy Baggy Elephant should be part of every child’s reading list.