So Light, So Heavy
By: Susanne Strasser
Elephant is so heavy, and all the other animals are so light. How will the seesaw ever go up and down?
Toddlers will be drawn in by repetition, opposites, humor, and an unexpected twist in this board book story about Elephant's quest to get the seesaw to teeter. A cast of friendly animals—who are all so light—try to help move the seesaw, but Elephant's side won't budge. He's so heavy. Then what happens when a child swoops in with other plans? Short, simple, and memorable, this board book offers a satisfying story arc.
Look Inside the Book:
Author & Illustrator Bios:Susanne Strasser, author
Susanne Strasser is the author and illustrator of several children's books in her home country of Germany.
Awards & Honors:
Kirkus Reviews, starred review
The teeter-totter won't tip no matter how many animals are on it. What will it take to make the teeter-totter tip? An elephant stands on one end of a teeter-totter, hoping to play, but the other end is empty, so it doesn't tip. One by one, a number of animals climb on: a penguin, a monkey, an ostrich, and a giraffe. And still the teeter-totter won't tip. "Elephant is so heavy," and the other animals "are so light." Even when a hippopotamus climbs on it doesn't tip—now both sides are equally weighted. A humorous and unexpected solution comes along in the shape of a trumpet-blowing blond, white child pulling along a sauropod on a leash. Standing against an azure blue background, the vivid red teeter-totter takes center stage, its fulcrum aligned with the gutter. The animals are simply drawn yet wonderfully expressive, and their antics on the teeter-totter are downright comical. This English translation from the original German is full of alliteration and onomatopoeic sounds—"ZOOP!"; "ZIPPITY ZAP!"; "TIPPY TOPPY TIP TAP!"—making it a read-aloud delight. Adult readers can encourage animal recognition and naming, prediction, or even a discussion on teamwork and physics. Such a heavyweight for such a light little book—delightful.
German-author-illustrator Strasser pictures a stocky gray elephant standing expectantly on a teeter-totter. Lively exclamations ramp up expectations: "Zippity zap! Monkey climbs onto the teeter totter. But the teeter-totter still won't tip. Penguin and Monkey are so light. An Elephant is so heavy.” After several other animals hop on, “finally the teeter-totter teeters!” But now it’s evenly balanced — until two final visitors (a child and a dinosaur) get the job done. Strasser contrasts the vivid red teeter-totter with a turquoise background, and her eclectic animal cast provides an amusing introduction to the concepts of weight, balance, and opposites.
An elephant clambers onto a teeter-totter, but how will he get it moving? First penguin climbs on, but he’s too light; then monkey; then ostrich, giraffe, and hippo—finally, all of them together raise the elephant off the ground, but they’re at a standstill. That is, until a child with a trumpet startles the whole menagerie (that’s one way to get a teeter-totter going). Strasser’s bright cartoon artwork nicely illustrates the concepts of light and heavy, with the bulky elephant occupying the left-hand page and the animals balancing out his weight on the right. Onomatopoeia and a repetitive refrain give this board book great read-aloud potential, too.
Page count: 22
7 x 7
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