LITTLE ELLIOT, BIG FUN

From the Little Elliot series

Gorgeous illustrations and an evocative time period support a somewhat staid story.

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)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9827-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

THE HUGASAURUS

Gently models kindness and respect—positive behavior that can be applied daily.

A group of young “dinosauruses” go out into the world on their own.

A fuchsia little Hugasaurus and her Pappysaur (both of whom resemble Triceratops) have never been apart before, but Hugasaurus happily heads off with lunchbox in hand and “wonder in her heart” to make new friends. The story has a first-day-of-school feeling, but Hugasaurus doesn’t end up in a formal school environment; rather, she finds herself on a playground with other little prehistoric creatures, though no teacher or adult seems to be around. At first, the new friends laugh and play. But Hugasaurus’ pals begin to squabble, and play comes to a halt. As she wonders what to do, a fuzzy platypus playmate asks some wise questions (“What…would your Pappy say to do? / What makes YOU feel better?”), and Hugasaurus decides to give everyone a hug—though she remembers to ask permission first. Slowly, good humor is restored and play begins anew with promises to be slow to anger and, in general, to help create a kinder world. Short rhyming verses occasionally use near rhyme but also include fun pairs like ripples and double-triples. Featuring cozy illustrations of brightly colored creatures, the tale sends a strong message about appropriate and inappropriate ways to resolve conflict, the final pages restating the lesson plainly in a refrain that could become a classroom motto. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Gently models kindness and respect—positive behavior that can be applied daily. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-82869-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

PIRATES DON'T TAKE BATHS

Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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