Big family by Mike Curato

cover image

Little Elliot series. Five Mile Press, 2015. ISBN 9781760068455
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Family, Friendship, Loneliness, Elephants, Mice. When Mouse goes off for a family reunion involving his parents, grandparents, 15 brothers, 19 sisters, 25 aunts, 28 uncles and 147 cousins, Elliot becomes lonely. The house is quiet and empty so he wanders off into the city, but here people are too involved in their own world to notice Little Elliot. He goes to the seaside, he skates at the skating rink, finally going to the movies, where he is still alone.
Outside in the snow, he hears his name being called and turns to find Mouse. He has missed Little Elliot, and has come to fetch him to his family reunion.
Here he joins in the family fun, being counted as one of the family.
This delightful story of belonging, of family and friendship will resonate with younger readers as they identify with Little Elliot being left on his own. They will be heartened when he goes off trying to find something to do and friends to meet, and buoyed up when Mouse returns for him, inviting him to be part of his family.
The old fashioned style of illustration and colouring will appeal to readers as they pick out things which are now so different.
Children will love to comment on how families are made up, and enjoy recounting the number of aunts and uncles, cousins, brothers and sisters they all have. Sometimes families are made up of many different layers and this too could be a point of discussion with a group of children. But certainly the main theme of belonging, of being part of a family will be the main focus of any child's attention.
Fran Knight