Randal the Elephant is a curious Otter. What? Okay, let me back track. Randal is an otter. An otter that thinks elephants are majestic and amazing and his dream is to become on. Some of his friends encourage his dream. Others think otters are better. Yet, Randal goes off to become an elephant. And even though his letters home seems to say he is having a great time, the pictures show the reader that this might be less than the truth.
This is a modern tale of searching for oneself and outward identity. Finding oneself might take one on a few paths. And Randal’s journey is no different. (Spoiler) He does come back to his otter family and friends, yet that does not stop his dreaming and journey (think giraffe).
Ciara Gavin might have a too modern take for some. However, it is not overly preachy or “in your face” as it could be. There is a little humor, but overall it is serious, without being “deep and heavy” for the child reader. The illustrations are light hearted and the right amount of color and detail (or lack of details in some cases). The best part of the story for me was the elephant facts at the end of the book. I would have liked to have seen more otter facts too, but it works out well. I could see this as a few animal series. However, the theme would have to change (examples: being yourself/finding yourself is the elephants; giraffes cover over coming fears; and so forth).