The Unordinary Elephant:

Jack is an elephant with tiny ears. His ears are too small to keep him cool in the hot weather of his savanna homelands. Henry is a man who has lived his whole life standing on his hands, and so has experienced life from a whole different perspective.

The Great World Conference is quick to decide the fate of these two strange characters, but Jack and Henry find that sometimes being different can also make you special...everyone just needs a little love and understanding.


I first met Rikako in November of 2003 when venturing abroad with a rag-tag group of
artists and djs for the show "Up Our Sleeve". Over Japanese-Korean bar-b-que
in the Harajuku district of Tokyo, we hit it off immediately. I was able to see the kind of work she and her fiance, Heisuke Kitazawa, were doing with picture books in Japan and I was deeply impressed. When Rikako saw some of my paintings in Los Angeles a few months later, she asked to collaborate on a children's book. By January, Rikako had emailed me her story, and we were off and running. A rough version of the then untitled book was featured in Heisuke and Rikako's Tokyo picture book show in April. This rather unique book, written in both Japanese and English, caught the eye of a woman who works for a lead children's educational company in Japan. She complimented the illustration saying the pictures are "both warm and simple" with vivid imagination throughout the adventure.

After The Unordinary Elephant's favorable impression in Tokyo, we decided to print! By October 2004, we had a beautifully published full-color book, printed right here in Los Angeles, CA. I'm very proud of the quality of every aspect of the project - the story is sweet, sad, and beautiful, a modern day Japanese fable. The illustration is both haunting and warm, and the bilingual aspect of the writing is different and culturally educational. Please enjoy our cross-global collaboration, a labor of love: The Unordinary Elephant!

(Photo: Rikako Yamada & Anna States, 2005)

Written by Rikako Yamada, Illustrated by Anna Woltz
(credited as Anna States)

BILINGUAL children's book
is written in both
English AND Japanese!