Tag Archives: The Elephant’s Airplane and Other Machines

Need a House? Call Ms. Mouse!


As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been looking for this book for a long, long time. I’m very happy to have found it. Doris Susan Smith has an amazing eye and her illustrations are beautiful, thoughtful, and clever (click on the picture of the frog’s “pad” above to see what I mean–it will get bigger).

My oldest likes the cat’s Japanese-style house and the frog’s pad best. My youngest likes the otter’s hunting and fishing lodge and the frog’s pad. My husband likes the owl’s observatory and fox’s den. My favorites are the worm’s hollowed-out pear and the frog’s pad (although all of us have several runners up for favorites). None of us like the pig’s mansion much (too formal!).

The words are nothing more than an excuse for the wonderful pictures, but we all like the book very much (although Ms. Smith’s Jeremy Rabbit books and The Elephant’s Airplane retain their places among the boys’ very top favorites).

Author: George Mendoza
Illustrator: Doris Susan Smith


All Aboard with Jeremy Rabbit


As I’ve mentioned before, searching for the rare Need a House? Call Ms. Mouse led to The Elephant’s Airplane, one of our favorite books to date.  Since its major attraction was its illustrations, I went hunting for all the other books illustrated by Doris Smith that I could find.  All Aboard with Jeremy Rabbit seemed particularly interesting because it was both  authored and illustrated by Ms. Smith and it has turned out to be a greatly enjoyable book in its own right.  We have the United Kingdom version of this long out-of-print book; it was published in the States as The Travels of J.B. Rabbit.

In this book, landlubber Jeremy Rabbit visits his seafaring cousin Waldo Otter for a memorable vacation.  There are trips on a train, car, boat, and hot air balloon.  There are delicious feasts and daring rescues. And, perhaps best of all, there is a sequel.

Author: Doris (Susan) Smith
Illustrator: Doris (Susan) Smith

The Elephant’s Airplane and Other Machines


For years I’ve heard about the beloved Need a House?  Call Ms. Mouse! but I’ve never been able to find a copy that wasn’t selling for hundreds of dollars.  (I’m still looking, if anyone has a hot lead!)  But I’m very grateful to Ms. Mouse; she led me to my oldest son’s very favorite book:  The Elephant’s Airplane and Other Machines.  Doris Susan Smith illustrated both books and her work is amazingly intricate and creative.  The story (translated from the original French) is really mostly an excuse for the illustrations; animals come from far and wide to Raccoon, Maker of Fine Machines, to order the custom-built machines of their dreams.  My son’s favorites include an underwater speed boat for The Deep Diving Platypus and a traveling home for Rabbit the Explorer.  Personally, I’m particularly fond of the heated snowmobile for A Most Unusual Lizard.  Though it is out of print, this book is easy to find and is absolutely worth the effort.

Author:  Anne-Marie Dalmais
Illustrator:  Doris Susan Smith