The Sand Elephant – Picture Book Review

By: Rinna Hermann and Sanne Dufft
Published On: August 8, 2019

Paul was alone in the sandbox. He has no one to play with so he etches out a large elephant in the sand. Slowly sleep overtakes him as Paul wishes the elephant were real and could play with him. But he doesn’t get to sleep too long before the elephant wakes him up to play. The sand elephant lets Paul ride on his back as they travel to very large sandcastle filled with other children Paul can play with. However, soon it begins to rain and Paul and his new friends get worried about the sand elephant and all the other creatures who had been at the sandcastle. But, water can’t truly hurt sand elephants because they and many other creatures can always be remade.

To me, the book highlights or focuses on two main themes: The first is creativity and imagination. At first. the sand elephant and large castle open the door to a young reader’s mind by showing them what can happen if they ‘pretend.’ Once the rain occurs the story then begins to show readers how they can extend their imagination and create new things no one has seen before, such as an elephant with large rabbit ears.

The second focus of the story is to show children to not despair when things look bad – to look for that silver lining. This is demonstrated by the elephant’s reassuring the children that not everything is as bad as it seems. The rain may have come and washed all their play away, but that just means they can rebuild again into something even better.

All in all, I found it a lovely book to read, and comes to full circle again at the end as the elephant and Paul go back to sleep. The only thing I wish it had included was another couple of fun examples after the rain had come of funny looking animals or even inanimate objects that aren’t quite right – a bicycle with wings, or a tree that grows lollipops.

Photo by Nicole Avagliano on

Thanks to Edelweiss and Floris Books for the advanced reader copy and opportunity to provide an honest review.


Paul has no one to play with. The sandbox is empty. Or is it?

As he digs and pats the sand, a shape appears: an elephant. Curling up under the elephant’s warm, sandy trunk, Paul drifts off to sleep. But then something amazing happens. The sand elephant stands up, and lifts Paul onto its back!

The sand elephant takes Paul to a wonderful land where incredible sand animals and their children are laughing and playing together. But what will happen when the wind starts to blow and the rain starts to fall?

In this delightful celebration of the power of childhood imagination, Rinna Herman’s story combines with pictures full of vibrancy and charm by acclaimed illustrator Sanne Dufft. This gentle story reassures children that friends from our imagination stay with us forever, so we need never feel alone.

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