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The Unmitigated Gall

(3,420 posts)
Tue Mar 14, 2023, 12:56 AM Mar 2023

Help! I'm looking for the title or author...

Of a fantasy children’s book I had back in the 60’s when, yes, I was a child. The artwork absolutely captivated me.
I can’t remember much of it but I seem to recall there were three travelers and they all had special powers. One of the travelers I remember most clearly could turn himself into an elephant. Another could turn himself into fire, and I can’t remember anything about the third companion.
I recall that they journeyed a long way and came to a king who set himself to make them prove their powers so he set before them three impossible tasks; the only one I recall clearly is the man transforming himself into an elephant to drink the huge vat of wine the king put before him. I can’t recall what the others did about their tasks.
Does any of this sound familiar? I’ve searched keywords like “man changes into elephant children’s story” and gotten nowhere. I’m guessing maybe it’s an adaptation of some old Persian or East Indian legend but I haven’t found anything there either. Deeply appreciative in advance!

Help! I'm looking for the title or author... (Original Post) The Unmitigated Gall Mar 2023 OP
"The King with Six Friends" perhaps. n/t John1956PA Mar 2023 #1
Mystery solved? jxla Mar 2023 #3
Yep, that's it! The Unmitigated Gall Mar 2023 #5
Nailed it. Thank you! The Unmitigated Gall Mar 2023 #4
Do you have a Reddit account? ItsjustMe Mar 2023 #2
Looks like Reddit could've helped. Thank you! The Unmitigated Gall Mar 2023 #6


(183 posts)
3. Mystery solved?
Tue Mar 14, 2023, 06:13 AM
Mar 2023

I was thinking about a book I reread in the 90’s and thought I’d share how I came to rediscover it.

Many of us have books we remember as a child that left behind the gift of a fond, albeit hazy, memory. There are several in my past, many of which I remember quite clearly. One, however, stood out. While the title eluded me, the story continued to visit, usually in the wee hours while trying to fall asleep. I remembered a young king with a yodler’s hat and a pointed beard. He lost his kingdom and was told that he could be a king again if he could accomplish a number of impossible feats. To do this, he enlisted the help of some men he rescued from various dangers along the way. I remembered that one turned into an elephant (and drank a huge vat of wine, as only a king could do). Another, a swarm of bees (who defeated an army). One, a hatchet, and one a tree. There was also a man who could become a snake (who spanned a gorge, making a bridge for them to cross) and one who could turn into fire (who “consumed” a king-sized meal). The last line of the book was etched indelibly in my memory. When asked why the king should be given a kingdom when these impossible tasks were accomplished by his friends, the elephant guy said, “He did what a good king should do. He led us.”

So, that was the gist of the story. It was also the first time I put the then-newfangled Internet to its proper use. I consider myself a pretty decent “keyword artist” and was able to track it down, despite having forgotten the title. Turns out it was called “The King With Six Friends”, written by Jay Williams.

The Unmitigated Gall

(3,420 posts)
5. Yep, that's it!
Tue Mar 14, 2023, 07:43 AM
Mar 2023

Watched the book reading on YouTube and the picture of the elephant drinking the wine is exactly as I remembered!

The lesson about seeing past our differences and working together, using our varying talents to accomplish larger goals is perfect for our time, I think.

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