What is your favorite thing to do in the whole world? Whatever it is, odds are that you don’t like doing it as much as the elephant in this book enjoys smashing small cars. He’ll smash any small car that drives down his road. He smashes yellow cars, he smashes blue cars, he smashes red cars, all the while singing a special car-smashing song. Then one day a man comes to town and opens a small-car store right on the elephant’s road. You can probably guess what the elephant does next, but the real fun starts when the man turns the tables on the elephant—and his plan is a smashing success.
Jean Merrill’s story of gleeful destruction, revenge, and conciliation is accompanied by Ronni Solbert’s colorful crayon drawings. Rarely has property damage looked so adorable.
About the Author
Jean Merrill (1923–2012) was born in Rochester, New York, and grew up on a dairy and apple farm near Lake Ontario. She received a master’s degree in English literature from Wellesley in 1945 and later studied folklore in India on a Fulbright fellowship. She worked for many years as an editor at Scholastic Magazine, Literary Cavalcade, and the publications department of Bank Street College before turning to writing full time. Her first book, Henry, the Hand-Painted Mouse, was published in 1951 and her last, The Girl Who Loved Caterpillars: A Twelfth-Century Tale from Japan, in 1992. In between she wrote some thirty books for young readers, including The Pushcart War (1964; available from The New York Review Children’s Collection), The Elephant Who Liked to Smash Small Cars (1967), and The Toothpaste Millionaire (1977).
Ronni Solbert (b. 1925) was born in Washington, D.C., and graduated from Vassar and the Cranbrook Academy of Art. As a Fulbright recipient she studied folk and tribal art in India. She has illustrated more than forty children’s books and written and illustrated three of her own. As a painter, sculptor, and photographer she has exhibited widely in the United States and abroad.
"This bare-bones story is as mischievous and subversive as all get-out, and it makes me laugh. It’s just what the title tells you: An elephant, who is way into the destruction of public property, learns his lesson when he meets a car salesman who won’t put up with it. The spare crayon drawings and make-no-apologies story of destruction (what toddler doesn’t like to smash things?) is unlike anything else you’ll see this year, most likely—and was quite possibly unlike anything else seen back in 1964." —Julie Danielson, Kirkus
"What is wonderful about this reissue – the book was first published nearly 50 years ago – is that it plays along merrily with a child’s need to smash, squash and exterminate.” —The Guardian
“From bubble wrap to bugs, the urge to smash and smush seems to be a part of the human condition. Just think of that group of four-year-olds building towers of blocks and then merrily knocking them down. Or those older kids bashing into each other during recess. Here’s a wonderfully subversive little book that captures the joy of that impulse and highlights the results. A perfect read aloud for all ages.” —Monica Edinger, author of Africa Is My Home and proprietor of the blog Educating Alice
"The greatest title in the history of book selling. Plus: a song." —Tom Nissley, owner of Phinney Books, Seattle