Synopsis: In Eric's house there were too many elephants in the living room, in the kitchen, in the bathroom, even in his bedroom!

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Reading Notes

Too Many Elephants in this House


In Eric's house there were too many elephants - in the living room, in the kitchen, in the bathroom, even in his bedroom! The elephants take up a lot of space, but Eric loves every one of them. So when his mum says they have to go, Eric comes up with a clever solution to a very BIG problem . . .From the creators of The Terrible Plop comes this delightfully energetic story, full of fun and exuberance.

Ursula Dubosarsky is widely regarded as one of the most talented and original writers in Australia today. She is the author of many outstanding books, both for young adults and for children, and has won numerous awards for excellence. Abyssinia was winner of the 2004 South Australian Festival Award for Literature - Young Adult. It was also shortlisted for the Ethel Turner Prize in the 2004 NSW Premier's Literary Awards, the Queensland Premier's Literary Award - Young Adult and the NSW State Literary Award - Young Adult. In 2006 Ursula won both the NSW and Victorian Premier's Awards for Theodora's Gift. In 2007 The Red Shoe won the Queensland Premiers Award, the NSW State Literary Award -Young Adult, and was an Honour Book in the CBC Book of the Year Award: Older Readers. Ursula lives in Sydney with her family. She has recently earned a PhD in English literature at Macquarie University.

Her most recent picture book is The Terrible Plop, illustrated by Andrew Joyner, which since its publication in March 2009, has been made into a very successful play and been published in both the UK and USA. Her collaboration at Penguin with Tohby Riddle for The Word Spy and Return of the Word Spy is already proving how prescient an author she is, with the current emphasis swinging back to teaching the basics of grammar in primary school.

About the illustrator

Andrew Joyner is an illustrator and cartoonist published nationally and internationally in newspapers and magazines including The Sunday Age
, The Age, Sydney Morning Herald, Sun-Herald, South China Morning Post, and Reader's Digest. He has illustrated books by humorists Ross Campbell and Wendy Harmer. The Terrible Plop was his first picture book with Penguin Books and most recently, he has produced a series of stories featuring Boris, a loveable Warthog. He lives in Strathalbyn, South Australia.


There was something about this fabulous story by Ursula Dubosarsky that seemed to immediately turn on a light for illustrator Andy Joyner and watching his illustrations emerge was exciting and delightful. This book was pure pleasure to work on!



  • Imagination

  • Friendship/teamwork


Ask your students to:

  • Look carefully at the front cover of the book. Think about the title of the book. Make predictions about what you think this book might be about.

  • Look carefully at Eric’s expression, what might he be thinking?

  • What could this tell us about the story?

  • The author of this book Ursula Dubosarsky. Do you know who Ursula Dubosarsky is?

  • Can you name some of her other books?
  • The illustrator of this book is Andrew Joyner. What does an illustrator do?


  • How many elephants can you count?

  • What do you know about Elephants? Where do you think these Elephants live?

Page 2/3

  • Why do you think Eric has elephants in his house?

  • Do you think they are real elephants or imaginary elephants?

Page 4/5

  • Do you think it wold be fun to have elephants in your house?

  • Why?

  • Why not?

  • What problems might it cause to have elephants in your house?

Page 6/7

  • Could it be dangerous to have an elephant in your hallway?

  • Could it be dangerous to have an elephant in your bathroom?

  • How might it be fun?

  • If you look carefully at Eric and the elephant’s faces, how do you think they might be feeling? Are they having fun?

Page 8/9

  • How many elephants are in Eric’s bedroom?

  • How much noise do you think they might be making?

  • Do they look like they are having fun?

Page 10/11

  • Why do you think Eric’s mother wants the elephants to leave?

  • How do you think Eric and the elephants are feeling? Think of some new words you have not used before to describe the feelings they might be having.

  • How can you tell they are feeling this way?

Page 12/13

  • Look carefully at the illustrations, have you noticed that some of the pictures look like they might be real photos of objects? For example the chair in the living room. See how many of these objects you can spot in the book.

Page 14/15

  • What song do you imagine the elephants are singing to Eric?

  • How many elephants can you count?

Page 16/17

  • Poor Eric and his elephants. How do you feel about them leaving?

  • What can Eric do? Can you think of a solution?

Page 18/19

  • Did you think of these ideas?

  • Why might they not work?

  • Look at the other animals in the zoo, how do you think they are feeling?

Page 20/21

  • How are the elephants causing trouble in the neighbourhood?

  • What things can you spot them doing wrong?

Page 22/23

  • A big box?? Can you put the elephants away in the big box?

  • Why? Why not?

Page 24/25

  • An elephant house! Just for elephants! Do you think they will all fit?

  • Why? Why not?

Page 26/27

  • How many elephants can you count?

  • What does Eric have in the wagon for the elephants?
  • Why might they need those things?

Page 28/29

  • The elephants are safe inside the house Eric has made. Do you think they will be happy there?

  • Why? Why not?

Page 30/31

  • Do the elephants look happy to be allowed out of their box?

  • What activities can you spot them doing?

  • How does Eric feel?

  • How can you tell he is feeling this way?

  • Have you spotted anymore ‘real’ objects?

  • Can you make a list of them?

Page 32

  • Could Eric carry a box full of elephants?

  • Do you think the elephants were real?

  • Why? Why not?

Look for pictures of elephants in books and on the internet. What can you learn about them?

Where do elephants live?

What do they eat?

Make a prediction about what life inside the elephant house Eric made for his elephants might be like.


Advertising in May Reading Time full page.

Feature in Off the Shelf

End of Year catalogue

Possible guest author at Professional Development Days.

Review mailing to key educationlists.

Feature on Penguin Teachers Corner blog and FB

Wide review mailing to Children's book reviewers of national newspapers, aswell as parenting magazines and websites,

Review mailing to children's books blogs

Reading Notes 2010 Page of

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