The Memory of an Elephant by Sophie Strady, illustrated by Jean-Francois Martin, Chronicle, 2014. France.
This larger-than-average book (11"x 14") is the perfect format to explore the the life of Marcel, a very old elephant who lives in a high-rise apartment. From his "breakfast of kings"; which includes bananas, fortune cookies and Jell-o; to his recollections of his life that he is putting down in an illustrated encyclopedia Marcel is charming throughout the entirety of this book. In addition to the story, the book is a delightful work of nonfiction. In addition to 10 pages of facts covering everything from instruments to food, the text has facts sprinkled throughout in boxes. This is a book that can be read many ways to suit a variety of readers. Once you have worked up an appetite there is also a recipe for "La Crepe Marcellet" towards the back of the book. The illustrations are soft, with charcoal-like outlines and shading. Red, blue, and of course grey dominate the pages with pops of yellow for contrast. The illustrations make this book truly delightful, from the expressions on Marcel's face to his animal friends hiding on nearly every page. I have seen this book draw in a second and fourth grader for a full thirty minutes as they explored the text and illustrations.