Little Elliot, Big Fun: A Picture Book Review

Little Elliot, Big Fun by Mike CuratoLittle Elliot and Mouse are back for another fun adventure. This time around, the two friends decide to go to Coney Island. Mouse is excited to try all of the rides but Elliot isn’t so sure. With so many rides that are too high, too crowded, and plain old too scary, will Elliot find a way to have fun with his friend in Little Elliot, Big Fun (2016) by Mike Curato.

Little Elliot, Big Fun is Curato’s third picture book featuring my favorite polka dot elephant. (Other books in the series: Little Elliot, Big City and Little Elliot, Big Family.)

Curato once again brings old time New York to life–this time turning his eye to Coney Island. The illustrations in this book really draw readers into the amusement park. Curato’s signature eye for detail (and careful research) also make sure every ride is accurate to the book’s era (somewhere around the 1940s). A fold out spread from the Coney Island Ferris Wheel is especially stunning.

Readers have previously seen Elliot make his way in a big world (when he is quite small), and find an adopted family when he comes to Mouse’s family reunion. In some ways, Elliot’s problems are smaller in this one but just as universal. Coney Island is fun and exciting but Elliot struggles with the crowds, the noise, and many of the rides.

Little Elliot, Big Fun is a sweet story that shows young readers it’s okay to be scared but that it’s also important to keep trying to find things (say, amusement park rides) that work for you. And sometimes even scary things are manageable when you tackle them with a friend. Like the other picture books in this series, Little Elliot, Big Fun is highly recommended and sure to be a crowd pleaser.

*An advance copy of this title was acquired from the publisher for review consideration at BEA 2016*

Little Elliot, Big Family: A Picture Book Review

Little Elliot, Big Family by Mike CuratoWith Mouse away at a big family reunion, Elliot decides to take a walk in the city where he sees all kind of families. The more families he sees, the more Elliot wonders what it means to be on his own. But as Elliot soon learns, families can come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes they might even choose you in Little Elliot, Big Family (2015) by Mike Curato.

Everyone’s favorite polka dotted elephant is back in this delightful follow up to author/illustrator Mike Curato’s debut Little Elliot, Big City. When Elliot is feeling very alone, his best friend Mouse comes to the rescue and invites Elliot to the mouse family reunion. Soon enough Elliot is enjoying the festivities and finds himself an honorary member of the mouse family.

Curato’s distinctive style once again brings New York City to life as Elliot travels around the city in Mouse’s absence. While the idea that families are unique is a familiar one in picture books, Curato’s illustrations add extra gravitas to make this story stand out.

Little Elliot, Big Family is another great story about a determined elephant and his unlikely friends (and family!). Great for story times or one-on-one readings.

Little Elliot fans should also check out the book website where they can join Elliot and Mouse’s family in their own family portrait: http://littleelliotbooks.com/portrait/91976/

You can also check out the book trailer:

*A copy of this book was acquired for review consideration from the publisher at BEA 2015*

Little Elliot, Big City: A Picture Book Review

Little Elliot, Big City by Mike CuratoElliot is a little elephant living in the big city. Amidst all of the hustle and bustle, Elliot finds a lot of things to enjoy–even with the unique challenges of being a small elephant in a big a city. Elliot especially loves cupcakes! Unfortunately, being so small, it isn’t easy to reach the counter and buy his special treat. When Elliot meets a white mouse who is even smaller than himself, Elliot realizes that new friends can be even sweeter than a tasty cupcake in Little Elliot, Big City (2014) by Mike Curato.

Little Elliot, Big City is Curato’s first picture book.

This delightful story of unlikely friends is visually stunning with beautiful illustrations of bustling New York City streets and even a picture of the iconic Flatiron building. Vintage cars and soft tones make this a quiet read that hearkens back to simpler times.

Elliot is a delightfully quirky and capable main character who is a real problem solver (at one point he uses a broom to get ice cream out of his freezer!). Curato’s sure drawing style and large illustrations bring Elliot to life and add a lovely dose of pathos to Elliot’s meeting with mouse. Readers will cheer when together Elliot and Mouse finally get their cupcake.

Curato’s deceptively simple text and intricate illustrations make Little Elliot, Big City a delight and definitely mark Curato as a picture book talent to watch.

You can also see the adorable book trailer for Little Elliot, Big City here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5oRgom8YRnM

Author Interview: Mike Curato on Little Elliot, Big City

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Mike Curato_Author Photo credit Ruth ChanMike Curato is here today as part of the Little Elliot, Big City blog tour to talk about one of my favorite 2014 picture books. After the interview you can also comment on this post to enter a giveaway for some awesome Little Elliot goodies! (You can jump to the end to enter now but please come back to read!) For more details about Mike Curato be sure to stop by his website: MikeCurato.com. You can also find out more about Little Elliot at LittleElliotBigCity.com.

Miss Print (MP): You wrote and illustrated Little Elliot, Big City. Can you tell us about what your creative process for this picture book looked like? Do you start with the text or the artwork?

MC: The first two books both spawned from images. In fact, there was art before there was a story, and there were doodles of Elliot before there was art. I often jump back and forth between the two modes of writer and illustrator.

MP: In addition to a very special elephant, Little Elliot, Big City features some beautiful illustrations of New York City (including my mom’s favorite building the Flatiron Building!). Did you always know this story would take place in New York?

MC: Oh yes. I grew up outside of New York City, and I’ve always been enamored with its old grandeur. When I started working on finished art of Elliot years ago, it quickly became the backdrop. There was no question.

MP: Working off the last question: The cars and people in your illustrations make it pretty clear that your book is not set in present day New York. How did you decide what period to use as the backdrop for this story?

MC: I love the aesthetic and romance of the late ‘30s/early ‘40s: the cars, the buildings, the clothes. It’s also a time before TV and smartphones and internet. Things were slower, but I think more intentional.

MP: What was your favorite part of this story to illustrate? Which part was the hardest?

MC: I think my favorite piece is the one of Elliot staring in the bakery window, though I thoroughly enjoyed drawing (and researching) all the cupcakes throughout the book. The hardest was probably the scene of Elliot in the crowded subway. Also, Mouse’s trash can was quite time consuming with all of that garbage and twisted wire.

MP: What medium do you prefer to work with for your illustrations? How do you decide where to start with each illustration?

MC: Each piece is hand-drawn in pencil, scanned, and colored in Photoshop. I always start with very simple sketches with just enough information to communicate what is going on in the image. Once I narrow in on a composition that works, I gather my reference, and then it’s off to the races.

MP: Can you tell us anything about your next project?

MC: I actually just finished the second book in the series, Little Elliot, Big Family, which comes out next Fall! It expands on Elliot’s friendship with Mouse, and has even more New York City scenes.

MP: Do you have any advice to offer aspiring authors?

MC: Create what makes you happy. Create what you think is missing from the world that could make it better.

Thank you again to Mike for taking the time to chat with me!

Now here are the giveaway details:

Thanks to Mary Van Akin at Macmillan Kids, you can win a copy of Little Elliot, Big City, a coveted Little Elliot tote and some adorable Little Elliot stickers!

Giveaway is US only and open to any readers aged 13 or older. Giveaway will run from today to September 5. (Winner will be notified on September 6. If I don’t hear from the winner by September 7, I will pick another winner.)

Comment below telling me your favorite kind of cupcake to enter!

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You can also check out the other tour stops for even more Little Elliot fun:

Tuesday, August 26: Librarian in Cute Shoes | @utalaniz

Wednesday, August 27: Teach Mentor Texts | @mentortexts

Thursday, August 28 : Read. Write. Reflect. | @katsok

Friday, August 29: Kit Lit Frenzy | @alybee930

Saturday, August 30: Daddy Mojo | @daddymojo

Sunday, August 31: The Trifecta: Sharp Reads | @colbysharp / Connect. Read. | @mrschureads / Nerdy Book Club | @nerdybookclub

Monday, September 1: Miss Print | @miss_print