Little Elliot, the white, polka-dot elephant, visits Santa at a New York department store with his friend Mouse.
He is looking for the Christmas spirit, but Santa tells him he’ll have to find that himself. Elliot and Mouse search at the ballet, Rockefeller Center, and while sledding—having fun but not finding the Christmas spirit. The story of the two friends is prefaced by wordless illustrations on the front endpapers and title page in which a little girl, bundled against the cold, tries to post a letter only to have it ripped out of her hands by the wind. The two stories come together when the red envelope addressed to Santa lands on Elliot’s forehead. He and Mouse read the letter, grab a cab, and arrive at a house with a red door, where Noelle, the girl who wrote the letter, invites them in, thus fulfilling both her and Elliot’s Christmas wishes. Not-a-word-out-of-place storytelling is enhanced by soft-focus illustrations done in pencil and colored digitally, which perfectly capture the characters’ expressions. The city setting seems to be post–World War II, with an old-fashioned look that could easily appeal to grandparents looking for a heartwarming holiday book to share. Young children will have fun trying to spot little Mouse throughout. Curato populates the pages with an eye to diversity, including people of color and a child who uses a wheelchair; Noelle appears to be Asian.
A treat for fans of the Little Elliot series. (Picture book. 3-7)