March 01, 2016

Elliot

by Julie Pearson
Illustrated by Manon Gauthier
Translated by Erin Woods
Pajama Press
978-1-927485-85-9
32 pp.
Ages 5-8
For release March 2016

As soon as I read Elliot, I knew it was something very, very special.  And then I learned that Elliot was a translation (capably handled by Pajama Press' Managing Editor Erin Woods) of a 2014 French-language picture book from Les 400 coups that had already won Le Prix du livre jeunesse des Bibliothèques de Montréal for 2015.  Its subtlety and poignancy ensures its sure status as a winner in English as well!

Elliot is a young rabbit with lots of spirit.  But when he cries, or yells, or misbehaves, like all children are want to do at some point, his parents do not understand his needs.  They seek help as caring parents might and a social worker named Thomas comes and takes Elliot to live with another family “until his parents learned how to take better care of him.”

Everything is different with this new family but best of all they understand when Elliot is hungry, upset or needs attention.  And things are better when Elliot’s parents come to visit, so much so that eventually they are ready to take Elliot home again.  But, when things don’t change at home, Elliot is sent to another family.  Though he gets to visit with his parents, Elliot is told by Thomas that his “parents could never take care of him, because they did not know how.

But Thomas helps find Elliot a “a forever, forever family”,  one that does more than just understand him, because they love him.

Elliot is a heartfelt story about finding one’s true family, the one that will love and care for you forever. It might be a foster family, it may be the family you’re born into, or it might be the one that ultimately adopts you, as Elliot is fortunate to find.  But Julie Pearson embues the story of Elliot with an underlying sadness, for Elliot who is being a child and for his parents who try to do the best they can for him but can't quite manage it.  And Manon Gauthier’s subtle collages of muted colours, save for Elliot’s red striped shirt, express that sadness and the grayness of tenuous family so movingly.  I defy anyone to read Elliot and not cry for the emotional hardships Elliot braves and cheer for the rosy blush of happiness (with a splash of red text) that comes when Elliot becomes part of a new family.

There are very few picture books that I want to clutch a little tighter and hold onto in my heart a little longer.  Elliot is one that has touched me so.
From Elliot (pg. 27) by Julie Pearson

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love this book also, Helen. It has a heart-felt message that is gently and genuinely imparted. Thank you for this wonderful review.

Monica K.