The Masterwork of a Painting Elephant - Book Review

The Masterwork of a Painting Elephant - Book Review

Author:  Michelle Cuevas

Illustrator: Ed Young

In the Masterwork of a painting elephant, Michelle Cuevas introduces us into the fantastic story of a little boy abandoned by this parents on the stairs of an orphanage, in a basket, under a blanket with a note attached.

The note says:
“please give me a home and if it is not too much trouble, a name love”
Signed: The baby

The baby leaves the stairs in front of the orphanage, wanders for a while and he is found eventually by Birch, a circus white elephant that offers him shelter on his giant back and names him Pigeon inspired by a clumsy fat and grey bird landing on the branch of a tree close to them. Faith made it possible to be the same bird that gave Pigeon’s mom a panic attack and a terrible scare that lead in the end to his parents’ decision to leave him shortly after that.

Protected and taken care by Birch, the boy grows, goes to school, befriends a little girl and does everything that a boy of his age is supposed to do. But at a certain point, much to his surprise, the boy finds out that his dearest friend, the elephant, has his own dreams. He is secretly and hopelessly in love with one of the lady acrobats at the circus that he was working for and as if this was not enough, he is also an incredible talented painter. So Pigeon decides to put the school on hold for a while and to take a trip to help his friend fulfill his destiny and get there where he has to be, with all the talented and renowned artists.

I really loved the story. It has depth and touches the soul, it is not just another story for children, the characters are lovable, easy to remember and hard to forget, even the negative ones, and as soon as you get to meet them, understand them, there is no way that you don’t grow fond of them.

The author Michelle Cuevas was born in 1982 in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, graduated from Williams College and has a Master degree in a Creative Writing from Virginia University, She also wrote The Confessions of an imaginary friend, The Uncorker of Bottle Oceans, Smoot and The Town of the Turtle.

Ed Young lives in Westchester County, New York. He is the illustrator for more than 80 children books, from which 17 illustrated and written by him. One of the books is Lon Po Po that won the Caldecott Award. Ed Young says that his work is inspired by the Chinese paintings philosophy.