Elliot

Julie Pearson, trans. from the French by Erin Woods, illus. by Manon Gauthier. Pajama (IPS, dist.), $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-927485-85-9
Elliot—a young rabbit with a tendency to cry, yell, and misbehave—moves between several homes in this story of adoption, foster care, and finding a “forever family.” Debut author Pearson never blames Elliot for his behavior (it’s unclear if he’s meant to have a developmental disorder), instead focusing on his parents’ inability to understand their son. After Elliot’s parents seek help, he is sent to live temporarily with an unfamiliar but loving family. Elliot later returns to his parents, but this proves short-lived; following a stint with a second foster family, Elliot is told that his “parents could never take care of him, because they did not know how.” A muted palette of gray, blue, and manila reflects the somber, uncertain mood, and Gauthier’s (Magic Little Words) naïf-styled rabbits resemble cutout paper dolls dropped into the scenes, suggestive of the way Elliot is shuttled around. Elliot eventually finds a family that understands him, and while the book’s somewhat oblique language may require supplemental explanation from adult readers, Pearson’s refusal to sugarcoat his journey should resonate with children in similar situations. Ages 5–8. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/25/2016
Release date: 04/01/2016
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