Pajama Press

Posts Tagged ‘foster care’

Elliot is “a powerful book about a difficult subject” says

Posted on March 16th, 2017 by pajamapress

Elliot_WebsiteMY EXPERIENCE:

…I appreciated the way that rabbits are used as anthropomorphic representations, perhaps softening this jarring subject matter. The gouache and pencil drawings are child-like and effectively portray the wide-range of emotions that Elliot feels throughout the course of the hectic back-and-forth of his journey from birth family to foster family and back and forth again until he is placed in his ‘forever home’. I think this is a powerful book about a difficult subject that is an important read-aloud to those kids who are going through similar circumstances as well as any child who knows someone who is being fostered.


  • sensitive discussion/presentation at a kid-friendly level of a very difficult topic
  • focus is on Elliot’s emotions and blame or judgement is not placed on birth parents
  • illustrations are sensitive, gentle, yet effectively explore the range of emotions this journey evokes…


  • …excellent read-aloud with children who have friends or classmates who are being fostered to help them understand what may be going on with their peers and what ‘foster care’ means”

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Elliot is the first picture book Sal’s Fiction Addiction has read that deals with the foster care system

Posted on February 13th, 2017 by pajamapress

Elliot_Website“Not all children are born into families where their needs can be met. There are many reasons for that. Perhaps the parents are too young, too inexperienced, incapable of providing the monetary support needed to help a child grow and flourish. Whatever the reason, there are times when children must be placed in foster care to ensure their growth and well-being….Honest and heartfelt, this book about foster parenting and adoption is a needed addition to any collection. Told in clear prose, with cut paper collage art done in quiet tones, it reflects the experiences of many children. I have not read another picture book dealing with the foster care system.”

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Elliot gets a 4 STAR review from E. R. Bird

Posted on October 26th, 2016 by pajamapress

Elliot_Website…[P]icture books carry heavy burdens, far above and beyond their usual literacy needs. People use picture books for all sorts of reasons. There are picture books for high school graduates, for people to read aloud during wedding ceremonies, for funerals, and as wry adult jokes. On the children’s side, picture books can help parents and children navigate difficult subjects and topics. From potty training to racism, complicated historical moments and new ways of seeing the world, the picture book has proved to be an infinitely flexible object. The one purpose that is too little discussed but is its most complicated and complex use is when it needs to explain the inexplicable….Julie Pearson’s book Elliot takes on that burden…It works in some ways, and it doesn’t work in others, but when it comes to the attempt itself it is, quite possibly, heroic….

Let me say right here and now that this is the first picture book about the foster care system, in any form, that I have encountered. Middle grade fiction will occasionally touch on the issue, though rarely in any depth. Yet in spite of the fact that thousands and thousands of children go through the foster care system, books for them are nonexistent….For children with parents who are out of the picture for other reasons, they may take some comfort in this book…

Pearson is attempting to make this accessible for young readers, so that means downplaying some of the story’s harsher aspects….

Artist Manon Gauthier is the illustrator behind this book and here she employs a very young, accessible style. Bunnies are, for whatever reason, the perfect animal stand-in for human problems and relationships, and so this serious subject matter is made younger on sight….

Could this book irreparably harm a child if they encountered it unawares? Short Answer: No. Long Answer: Not even slightly. But could they be disturbed by it? Sure could….I’ll confess something to you, though. As I put this book out for review, my 4-year-old daughter spotted it. And, since it’s a picture book, she asked if I could read it to her….I decided to explain beforehand as much as I could about children with developmental disabilities and the foster care system. In some ways this talk boiled down to me explaining to her that some parents are unfit parents, a concept that until this time had been mercifully unfamiliar to her. After we read the book, her only real question was why Elliot had to go through so many foster care families, so we got to talk about that for a while. It was a pretty valuable conversation and not one I would have had with her without the prompting of the book itself. So outside of children that have an immediate need of this title, there is a value to the contents.

…Books like Elliot are exceedingly rare sometimes….Elliot confronts issues few other titles would dare, and if it looks like one thing and ends up being another, that’s okay….It’s funny, strange, and sad but ultimately hopeful at its core. Social workers, teachers, and parents will find it one way or another, you may rest assured. For many libraries it will end up in the “Parenting” section. Not for everybody (what book is?) but a godsend to a certain few.

For ages 4-7.”

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Elliot is “a must-read,” says Today’s Parent

Posted on March 3rd, 2016 by pajamapress

Elliot_Website“Written by Julie Pearson (an adoptive mother) and illustrated by Manon Gauthier, Elliot is a gentle guide to the foster child system from a kid’s point of view. Elliot’s parents love him, but when he starts crying and misbehaving they don’t know what to do. That’s when Elliot meets a social worker named Thomas…

…The book tackles a complex issue in an approachable and kid-friendly way with adorable bunny characters and soft collage illustrations. It’s a must-read.”

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Elliot “something very, very special”—CanLit for LittleCanadians

Posted on March 2nd, 2016 by pajamapress

“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_WebsiteElliot 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.”
—Helen Kubiw

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Elliot recommended to Librarians by SLJ

Posted on March 1st, 2016 by pajamapress

Elliot_WebsiteDespite this book’s serious subject matter—a child who needs foster care—its tone is calm and soothing. Pearson creates a rhythm by repeating the three major ways that a young rabbit named Elliot is misunderstood by a series of adult caregivers, beginning with his parents. They love him but don’t know why he cries, and they don’t know how to respond when he yells or misbehaves. Fortunately, his parents ask for help, and Thomas, clearly a social worker, places Elliot with a foster family, while his parents are taught “how to take better care of him.” This new family understands him and meets his needs. Still, Elliot enjoys his parents’ visits but is nervous when he returns to live with them. When the old problems recur, Thomas places Elliot with another foster family. The child adjusts to his new environment and is happy to be understood. His parents visit, and he wants to live with them again. Eventually, he returns to his birth parents, but the problems persist, and this time Thomas promises Elliot to find a “forever family.” This popular phrase conveys the eternal commitment that adoptive parents and siblings share with an adopted child, and Elliot’s ultimate placement with a loving “forever family” turns out to be the best resolution. Gauthier’s gouache and pencil drawings are simple but poignantly depict the range of emotions Elliot experiences. The muted colors also help reinforce the low-key, reassuring message. Pearson handles this delicate subject with an understandable, sensitive, and sympathetic text. VERDICT Recommended for libraries seeking books to help young children understand that birth parents sometimes do not how to care for them and that other caregivers must enter their lives.School Library Journal

“Naif-styled rabbits” tell the story of adoption, foster care and finding a forever family—Publishers Weekly

Posted on February 17th, 2016 by pajamapress

Elliot_WebsiteElliot– a young rabbit with a tendency to cry, yell, and misbehave– moves between several homes in this story of adoption, foster care, and finding a “forever family.” Debut author Pearson never blames Elliot for his behavior (it’s unclear if he’s meant to have a developmental disorder), instead focusing on his parents’ inability to understand their son. After Elliot’s parents seek help, he is sent to live temporarily with an unfamiliar but loving family. Elliot later returns to his parents, but this proves short-lived; following a stint with a second foster family, Elliot is told that his parents could never take care of him, because they did not know how. A muted palette of gray, blue, and manila reflects the somber, uncertain mood, and Gauthier’s (“Magic Little Words”) naif-styled rabbits resemble cutout paper dolls dropped into the scenes, suggestive of the way Elliot is shuttled around. Elliot eventually finds a family that understands him, and while the book’s somewhat oblique language may require supplemental explanation from adult readers, Pearson’s refusal to sugarcoat his journey should resonate with children in similar situations.Publishers Weekly

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