cover image Eli and Uncle Dawn

Eli and Uncle Dawn

Liz Rosenberg. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P, $15 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-200947-2

Deploying a color-saturated blend of watercolor, acrylic and colored pencil, and setting a lively visual pace that skips from full-page illustrations to small insets, Gaber (Bit by Bit) crafts a stimulating backdrop for this imaginative tale. Eli and his bright-eyed stuffed elephant, George, are inseparable. On a picnic one day with Uncle Dawn-a magician and part-time handyman who lives with them-George is accidentally left behind, and Eli is inconsolable. Bedtime turns into adventure time, however, when the boy sails away on his window shade in search of his lost friend. Is the excursion just a dream? A surprise twist to the happy ending will keep readers guessing. Rosenberg's (The Carousel) fluid, lyrical prose spins out in a seamless line, making the story a most inviting choice for a read-aloud, and the artwork deftly pins down the tale's magical essence. The nighttime scenes are especially effective-Eli floating above the rooftops, face aglow, the rich indigo of his window shade contrasted against the deep blue-gray of the starlit sky-and a view of Eli on the porch, a tiny figure looking out into the darkness, is simply masterly, evoking as it does the despair and helplessness that he feels over the loss of his toy. A perfect pairing of author and artist. Ages 3-8. (Mar.)