Ellie, the artistic elephant and star of her own Disney Press book series, will have her fourth adventure on April 7th in her newest book, Ellie Makes a Friend. Written and illustrated by Pixar Artist Mike Wu, this newest book celebrates his Chinese heritage through the introduction of an adorable panda named Ping. Cuddle up with your kids and share this charming story with them.
Ellie’s zoo is buzzing with excitement when a new animal arrives from China, a panda named Ping. When the panda pulls out a bamboo brush and starts painting calligraphy, Ellie starts to feel like her own art isn’t that special anymore. She’ll have to overcome her jealous feelings if she wants to make friends with her new neighbor.
Jealousy is a common feeling for kids, whether it's jealousy over a toy that someone else is playing with or feeling inadequate when they’re unable to do the same things an older sibling or friend is capable of. Ellie Makes a Friend is a great way to talk to kids about these feelings and healthy ways to deal with them. As the title and cover suggests, Ellie gets over her feelings in a way that allows Ellie and Ping to become friends and collaborate together.
This may be the fourth book in the series, but each Ellie story stands on its own and you can easily start here without reading the previous entries. If you’ve read any of the previous books, you’re likely excited by the prospect of a new entry and this release does not disappoint. New fans can check out Ellie, Ellie in Concert, and the board book for toddlers, Ellie in Color.
Mike Wu’s watercolor illustrations are charming and have always reminded me of some of the early Disney animated features, particularly Dumbo. Ellie’s world is colorful, but not jarringly so, and Ping’s introduction brings with her some nice black and white contrasts. One of the book’s themes is yin and yang and the art will make you feel peaceful and calm, making Ellie Makes a Friend a perfect bedtime story selection.
I recommend Ellie Makes a Friend and the rest of Mike Wu’s Ellie series for parents who want to encourage their child’s creativity and kindhearted nature. They will easily relate to Ellie and her feelings and this story is a great way to talk to your kids about feelings of jealousy or any inadequacy that they feel. And if they’re inspired by Ping’s calligraphy, the book includes six Chinese characters based on words that are in the story, including “Love,” “Friend,” and “Hello.” Kids and parents can practice these words and may find themselves picking up calligraphy as a new artistic hobby.
Click here to read an interview with Mike Wu about Ellie Makes a Friend
Alex has been blogging about Disney films since 2009 after a lifetime of fandom. He joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and covers films across all of Disney’s brands, including Star Wars, Marvel, and Fox, in addition to books, music, toys, consumer products, and food. You can hear his voice as a member of the Laughing Place Podcast and his face can be seen on Laughing Place’s YouTube channel where he unboxes stuff.