Little Elliot, Big City

Mike Curato. Holt, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9825-9

First in a series, Curato’s debut introduces a tiny polka-dotted elephant who lives in a Hopperesque 1940s Manhattan. Elliot is so small that he cowers on the subway platform so as not to be stepped on, and while he’s literally the elephant in the room (or on the sidewalk), his fellow seen-it-all New Yorkers give him nary a notice wherever he goes. Despite the annoyances and hazards of the city, Elliot soldiers on like so many others in the Big Apple, savoring “small treasures.” His life opens up unexpectedly and dramatically when he meets a white mouse, “someone even littler than himself.” Together, they make a great team, especially when it comes to facilitating the purchase of Elliot’s favorite treasure, cupcakes. Curato’s writing is a tad literal and makes Elliot seem a bit more pathetic than his images convey. But he’s a terrific emerging talent, with gorgeously rendered images that bring to mind the moodiness of Chris Van Allsburg and the sweetness of William Joyce. Ages 4–8. Agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Aug.)