Elliott is kind of a heavy book. The title character is a small rabbit who has spent his life as part of a carnival magic act, and the time comes for the carnival to close down. The abrupt change throws Elliott into a fearful spiral and he retreats into his top hat, unsure of what life could possibly hold for him. He fantasizes about what he could do if he were bigger, stronger, less afraid, but he doesn’t dare venture out. A dear orphan girl who lived nearby and never missed a performance tries desperately to coax him out, as Elliott is her only true friend. He’s able to find the courage to force himself out only when he has a chance to help her.
Yeah, kind of big for small children, but here’s the thing: I want my kids to know that there are big feelings to be had, and this is kind of a gentle introduction to some of them. And the pictures (the design of the whole book, really) are truly striking. A mixture of pencil and paint, they’re evocative of that old-fashioned funky carnival, with kind of a delicious dark shadow cast over them. The rabbit’s eyes have a light to them, just like the girl’s eyes; those fantastic carnival stripes trickle onto each page.
What do you think about having heavier children’s books in the mix with the brightly colored lighter ones? Which ones do your kids enjoy?