A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Mike Curato's Little Elliot, Big Family is the follow-up to Little Elliot, Big City. In the first book, lonely polka-dotted elephant Elliot finds a friend in Mouse. Here, Elliot wishes he had family members to spend time with, and Mouse ends up inviting him to a family reunion with Mouse's "parents, grandparents, 15 brothers, 19 sisters, 25 aunts, 27 uncles, and 47 cousins," where he's accepted as part of the family. It's a lovely friendship story that reinforces the idea that you don't have to be blood relatives to feel like family. It's also a great story for teaching empathy.
What's the story?
After sleeping over at Elliot's apartment in the big city (clearly New York), Mouse gets up and goes off to his family reunion. So Elliot spends the day by himself, traveling around the city and seeing family units everywhere: brothers playing baseball in the street, mothers reading to their sons on the subway, fathers with their daughters in the park, sisters sharing treats "and secrets" at a diner, cousins skating together at the rink at Rockefeller Center. He goes to a movie theater and watches Jungle Adventure, featuring an elephant family, and sheds a tear because he misses Mouse. On the way home, on a cold and windy night, Mouse finds him and takes him to the mouse family's attic, where the party is still in full swing. Elliot meets Mouse's 147 cousins, has some of Mouse's grandmother's cheese chowder, and has a great time. When Mouse counts his family members again, he adds "one more" for Elliot.
Is it any good?
This second adventure in the Little Elliot series is as good as the first and carries a wonderful message about how friends can be family, too. It's great seeing the depiction of a strong bond between friends who are very different -- at least in outward appearance. And though Elliot has no family with him, Mouse has so many family members "it's very hard to keep track.?
The story in LITTLE ELLIOT, BIG FAMILY is warm and reassuring and poignantly portrays emotions -- both the sadness of feeling alone and the joy of being welcomed and accepted by a friend's family. And the retro-style art is brilliantly engaging as it shows the vibrant diversity of folks in the city, from Central Park to Chinatown.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the meaning of family. Besides your relatives, is there anyone in your life who feels like family to you?
Did you read Little Elliot, Big City? How do you think this second book in the series compares? Do you like it as much? Would you like to read more stories about Elliot?
When Elliot travels around the city, he sees many family groups. Try counting how many families you see on your next outing. How are they the same? How are they different from one another?
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