The third book featuring Little Elliot, a polka-dot elephant, and Mouse brings them to Coney Island.
Little Elliot and Mouse take the train to Coney Island, where Mouse assures Elliot that he will have a great time. Visual details such as the fashions on the racially diverse crowds—most especially the black enlisted sailor’s dress whites—point to a time period of late 1930s to early 1940s, a feeling that is enhanced by Curato’s lush illustrations in a color palette that recalls the postcards of that era. Having arrived at Coney Island, Elliot is, alas, not having a good time. He is frightened by the rides, a sea gull steals his ice cream, and the clown scares him. When Mouse suggests the Ferris wheel, Elliot climbs on with trepidation. But when, in a dramatic horizontal double-gatefold spread, he sees the whole wonderful panorama of the park, he begins to enjoy himself. At dusk, Elliot asks Mouse what his favorite part of the day was, and Mouse replies, “being with you,” a sentiment echoed by Elliot. The story ends on this tidy, rather bland note, but adults reading aloud may privately muse about the poignancy of a story of friendship perched on the edge of World War II, and this adds a pleasing nuance.
Gorgeous illustrations and an evocative time period support a somewhat staid story. (Picture book. 4-6)