a good lead-in to talking about body image

by Jill Murphy - Walker Books, 2006
ages 2 to 8 years / funny

Who can resist a book about a dieting elephant!

Poor Mrs Large - somehow she has the idea that she is fat and puts the whole family on a diet. And we all know that is just how it works.

The family suffer badly - no TV - no crisps!

When a cake arrives from Granny, Mrs Large puts it up high in cupboard: "Just in case we have visitors" But it is all too much for the family. No-one can stop thinking about the cake. Finally, Mrs Large gives in and during the middle of the night decides she must have a piece of cake - only to discover there is just one piece left. The family catch her in the act and she eats the last piece because as one of the children tells her: 

"I do think elephants are meant to be fat."

This is such a happy elephant family going through what many a happy human family has been through. Many a child (and father) will be able to relate to being put on a strict diet because Mum decides she is fat, even when no-one else in the family can see it. Mrs Large has a very expressive face - we can tell just what she is thinking.

It’s a great book to talk about body image. The very first line is “I’m fat!” which is clearly not true - so conversations about body shapes, healthy eating, and exercise can easily follow.

The poor elephant family felt terrible because they weren’t eating enough of the right foods for elephants, but ultimately Mrs Large is probably right – no crisps!

All in all it’s a nice look at a family working together, and a good opportunity to talk about the way people see themselves.


There are funny repeated lines, a fun and familiar plot, happy outcome. Just the thing for any family who ever had to have watercress soup and a healthy jog instead of cake for dinner!

You can buy A Piece of Cake via these direct links: Amazon - Book Depository - Booktopia