Review: Little Elliot, Big City by Mike Curato

little eliot big city

Little Elliot, Big City by Mike Curato

Eliot loved living in the big city, but sometimes it was hard being such a small elephant in such a huge place.  He had to watch out so he didn’t get stepped on, doorknobs could be too high, and he could never catch a cab.  Even at home, Eliot had to find a way to make everyday things work.  Eliot also loved cupcakes, though when he tried to buy  one in a shop he couldn’t get noticed by the person at the counter.  He felt very small and invisible then, but on the way home he discovered a mouse trying to reach some food and found that even though he may be small he can make a big difference.  Even better, he can make friends!

Curato uses only a few words to tell his story, making the most of the illustrations to show the ways that Eliot solves his height issues at home as well as how the new friends solve the cupcake buying problem.  Children will enjoy reading about this little polka-dotted elephant who faces the same issues that they do in life.  They will easily relate to the sadness of being ignored too. 

The illustrations in this book are filled with charm.  Eliot himself is a wonderfully unusual little fellow, shining on the page.  The images of the city are mostly done in a dark and subtle color palette.  The entire book has a fifties vibe to it and some of the images are pulled right out of an Edward Hopper painting.  It’s a courageous choice that works particularly well.

A charmer of a protagonist and an urban landscape make this one delicious cupcake of a picture book.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Henry Holt & Co.


Cupcake by Charise Mericle Harper

Vanilla Cupcake is born after ingredients are mixed together and he is baked in a toasty warm oven.  He is decorated with plain vanilla frosting and then meets all of the other cupcakes that have been decorated in a much more fancy way.  By the end of the day, he is the only cupcake that remains and hasn’t sold.  He bursts into tears and a candle nearby hears him crying.  Cupcake explains what has happened and the plain green candle understands because he has very fancy siblings of his own.  Then Candle has a great idea and hops off to find exactly the right thing to decorate Cupcake.  They try all sorts of things from pickles to pancakes and even a squirrel!  But nothing is quite right.  Just when readers think that Candle and Cupcake will finally figure it all out, there is a delicious twist that will have everyone laughing out loud.

This book is a hoot!  I had worried with its sparkly cover and sweet subject that it might get a bit too syrupy, but just when you think that might happen the humor kicks in and takes the book in a different direction.  Harper’s writing is simple, adding to the humor by its straight-forward tone.  Her art is also simple and graphically strong with its black outlines and pastel colors. 

A book that captures the cupcake craze with a sweet tone and plenty of giggles, share this one at any sweet storytime you may be planning.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

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