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William Hart
Elephants Are Not Artists
William Hart, author

Picture Book; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

What does it mean to be an artist? Ruby is an elephant who loves to draw on the ground with her favorite stick. She dreams of getting to use colors one day. When others tell her that she will never be an artist, she must choose between believing them or believing in herself. Discover how determination, practice, and forgiveness help Ruby along her journey.
In Hart’s inspiring picture book for young children, Ruby the Asian elephant overcomes doubt and uncertainty to fulfill her dream of becoming a painter. Living at a zoo, Ruby’s favorite thing to do is scratch pictures in the dirt with a stick. She draws what she sees and feels in her heart—the sun, the trees, the other creatures surrounding her each day. The only problem: many of the animals insist elephants cannot be artists. A galloping gazelle and a hawk watching her from a tree branch tell her she doesn’t have what it takes and should get a new hobby, and a snobby snake insists that serpents are the real artists.

Despite this ceaseless ridicule, Ruby does not get discouraged. “Of course she’s an artist!” she declares. “She’s proud of her drawings and knows they are art because they share her imagination with others.” Her dedication to doing what she loves will be intriguing to young kids who are just beginning to discover their own interests. This story will also open the door to discussions about the many different types of art—as well as the diverse array of artists who create it. When Ruby’s caring zookeeper finally gives her a set of paintbrushes and some colorful paints, kids and adults will want to cheer the plucky elephant on.

Law’s colorful illustrations clearly capture Ruby’s joy when she is painting or scribbling in the dirt, her trunk curled around a tree branch and her eyes smiling. Another highlight is Ruby’s pictures, including stylishly smudged portraits of the three animals who said she could not create art. It all ends with a delightful revelation: Ruby’s story is based on a real elephant who lived and painted in the Phoenix Zoo. Kids will want to read this one more than once—and then maybe pick up a paintbrush and follow their hearts.

Takeaway: In this inspiring picture book, Ruby the Asian elephant overcomes doubt to become a painter.

Great for fans of: Katya Arnold’s Elephants Can Paint Too, Susie Hodge’s Artists and Their Pets.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A