Little Elliot (a small, white pachyderm with pastel polka dots) and his bestie, Mouse, need a respite from the big city’s grating sounds, slightly sickening smells, and frenetic pace.
The fourth in Curato’s Little Elliot series opens in an unnamed but recognizable New York City (again realized in sepia tones and 1940s fashions) but quickly follows the two companions into the rolling hills of the country. While young readers will enjoy tracking the friends’ bucolic autumnal escape (lolling under apple boughs, frolicking in leaf piles, crawling through logs, hiding in pumpkin patches), they might miss the pre–World War II period details of Little Elliot’s earlier urban adventures, those grainy snapshots from another era in felted browns. Indeed, all appears golden, barn red, and mossy green in the smooth, digitally colored farmland. When Little Elliot finds himself alone in a cornfield at nightfall, a double-page spread of spreading dusky darkness effectively breaks up the crisp clarity of the sunny country narrative with palpable fear. “He waited and waited, but Mouse never came.” Anxiety is banished when the whiff of apple pie tickles Little Elliot’s trunk and leads him to the waiting arms of Mouse and new barnyard friends—and a sweet feast!
A yummy, happy resolution—perfectly delectable to the preschool crowd. (Picture book. 3-6)