A Toast to FAMILY!

I’ve been blessed with a very big family, and now I get to share it with the world. Today is the release of Little Elliot, Big Family, the second book in my Little Elliot series with Henry Holt Books for Young Readers (Macmillan).


What is family? Sometimes it’s the people you’re born to, and sometimes it’s the people you choose to be with. Throughout my life, I’ve been reminded that family takes on many forms. I think it’s a beautiful word, and the more flexibility I allow in its definition, the more love fills my life.

I am very lucky to have a mom and a dad, a sister and a brother. We lived just outside New York City in the house that my Mom was raised in. While my Mom is an only child, my Dad has 7 siblings and nearly 30 nieces and nephews. However, almost all of my Dad’s family lives on the other side of the world! When my Grandma passed away, my Mom’s best friend and her family made some room at their table and in their hearts, and we became a part of their family, and they became a part of ours. This was my first real lesson in the beauty of inclusion. We were there at every holiday and birthday celebration. My siblings and I grew up calling my Mom’s friends “aunties,” and their parents became like grandparents to us.

When I moved away to college, I made friendships that ran so deep, I didn’t know it was possible! We were all fresh from the nest, learning to fly together. Most of my friends were fellow artists, a community that I didn’t really have before. I finally had a group of people who felt the kind of passion I did. We all lived for creating art, and we needed each other’s support and advice. That bond has never been broken. This weekend, we’re all reuniting for a wedding, and that part of my family is going to grow even more!

After college, I moved across the country to Seattle. I came with no expectations, had no idea how long I’d live there or what I would do, but it was time for a fresh start. I also had no idea that the people I would meet there would also become my family, and I would stay there for ten years. Seattle is where I really came into my own. I was finally comfortable in my own skin, and I had a community that loved and supported the person that I had become.

I also met my husband, Dan, in Seattle. Two years ago, we were married, and family has taken on an even newer, richer meaning. We both have someone who is dedicated to being there for the other, forever! If that’s not family, I really don’t know what is. Meanwhile, I’ve acquired a mother-in-law, step-father-in-law, 4 brothers-in-law, 8 sisters-in-law, and 29 nieces and nephews (and counting).

As an adult, I have been able to travel abroad to visit my extended family in the Philippines and Ireland. Meeting all of these aunts, uncles, and countless cousins has really expanded my view of family (and the world). In Ireland, I was immediately treated as one of them, though we’d never met. I got to know the grandfather I never knew through the constant stories and laughter that I was immersed in. In the Philippines, the huge language gap never posed an issue in regard to feeling loved and included. When I met my grandparents for the first time, words were wholly unnecessary. We spoke with tears and embraces. Family transcends borders.

Now that I’ve moved back to New York, my family has grown even more. I have a real “kidlit” community that includes fellow authors and illustrators, my publishing houses, and my agent. They are my book family, people whose hearts are made up of pages. They understand what it means to share a story, and the struggle to tell it well. What’s most important is that we’re all here for each other.

And speaking of telling stories, I am so thrilled to share another of Little Elliot’s. One thing I must tell you about Little Elliot, Big Family is that every name you see in an illustration in the book is a family member from one of the many branches of my family. Some even posed for many of the illustrations. There is also a certain movie poster which appears throughout the book that has my parents’ faces on it. Keep your eyes peeled. There’s family on every corner!

Throughout the book, you'll find the names of my big family everywhere!

Throughout the book, you’ll find the names of my big family everywhere!

When Little Elliot, Big City came out, I did not realize that I was beginning yet another family. Little Elliot has connected me with so many readers, young and old. It’s been humbling to watch as people let Elliot into their classrooms, homes, and hearts. Thanks for all the love. Little Elliot and I are so happy to have you all be a part of our BIG FAMILY.

Kidlit County, Little Elliot's Neighborhood, Uncategorized

Little Elliot, Big Window, Take THREE!

Little Elliot has moved back into his cushy window at Books of Wonder! His first stay was last year for the launch of Little Elliot, Big City, and then again for Christmas. Now, he’s back, and he brought a few friends, or I should say, his BIG FAMILY! Come celebrate the release of Little Elliot, Big Family with me this Sunday, October 4, at 18 W 18th St, between 5th and 6th Avenues, from 3-5 PM! There will be a book reading, presentation about how I work, drawing demo, and of course CUPCAKES, along with some cheesy treats! Meanwhile, I thought I’d share the “making of” our Mouse party…



I am very blessed to have a big family of crafty folks here in NYC. In this pic you can see Katrina, Les, Sigal, Emilie, Isabel, and Dan making mice out of socks and pipe cleaners, while Ruth is patiently trimming mounted print outs of mouse portraits from the book’s endpapers.

I got the idea for these mice from the Queen of All Things Mousey, Maggie Rudy. She pointed me to this tutorial, which I adapted so that they looked more like a Mouse from Little Elliot’s world:

Emilie sewed all of the socks to have pointy noses. I bought white and black socks, dyed some brown socks, and we added spots to some with markers. Then we all prepped the little bits we’d need from pipe cleaners and felt.

Dan cut little holes in the front, and Isabel stuck pipe cleaner arms through them.

Dan cut little holes in the front, and Isabel stuck pipe cleaner arms through them.

Sigal stuffs a brown mouse.

Sigal stuffs a brown mouse.

Katrina draws on a nose while Emilie glues on some ears.

Katrina draws on a nose while Emilie glues on some ears.

assembly line

assembly line

"I can't see!" Last, we used push pins for eyes, and inserted little round pieces of foamcore in the bottoms for a little stability.

“I can’t see!” Last, we used push pins for eyes, and inserted little round pieces of foamcore in the bottoms for a little stability.

Meet Mouse's family!!!

Meet Mouse’s family!!!

After making all of those mice, I had to find all the fun props for their little attic party. Several friends were kind enough to lend some pieces, but most of the fabulous finds came from Kelly Light, who basically lives in a 20th century museum. I searched for fabric to use as a backdrop, and found a lovely polka-dotted blue one. Finally, it was time to install!

My super-agent, Brenda Bowen, helped me install the whole back wall. Photo credit: Wendi Gu

My super-agent, Brenda Bowen, helped me install the whole back wall. Photo credit: Wendi Gu

Installing took the WHOLE day! Here are a few up-close details:



Little Elliot is ready to join in!

Little Elliot is ready to join in!


I wonder what Mousey tunes they are listening to!


A party with Little Elliot is incomplete without cupcakes!


These well-traveled mice wouldn’t want to be anywhere else right now!

Tea, anyone?

Tea, anyone?


I’ll have a cup!


Order up!

Join us!

Join us!

Hope to see you this Sunday! If you can’t join us, you can always purchase signed copies of both books from Books of Wonder (they ship almost anywhere). Meanwhile, the window will be up until the week of October 20th.


Kidlit County, Little Elliot's Neighborhood

Little Elliot, Big Family Trailer

We’re getting SO CLOSE to October 6th!!! Though you can’t get the book just yet, you can take a sneak peek at what’s inside in this little trailer I made.

A big thank you to Mr. Schu, who premiered it on his blog yesterday.

Also, if you want to get the book two days earlier than release, you can join Elliot and me for cheesy treats at the Books of Wonder book launch party on Sunday, October 4 at 3PM! If you can’t join us, you can pre-order signed copies of both Big Family and Big City!

Kidlit County, Little Elliot's Neighborhood

Little Elliot, Big Family Tour

I know summer is over, but Little Elliot and I are actually going on a family trip. A BIG FAMILY trip, that is! The next installment in the series, Little Elliot, Big Familycomes out Tuesday October 6th! Elliot and I will be doing some local events here in New York to start things off, then we’re off to different parts of the country to visit our extended reading family. Check out the tour dates to see if we’re stopping near you!

Click on the image to enlarge.

10/4 Books of Wonder
New York City
3 – 5 PM: Last year, we had an incredible book release party at Books of Wonder, and I’m thrilled to be back again this year. Though the book technically comes out on October 6th, you’ll be able to purchase Little Elliot, Big Family early on October 4th, enjoy some cheesy treats with Elliot, Mouse, & me, and enjoy the window display that my friends and I are cooking up!

Here's a pic of last year's window! Click the image to read all about the making of.

Here’s a pic of last year’s window! Click the image to read all about the making of.

10/6 Voracious Reader
Larchmont, New York
4:00 – 5:00 PM

10/13 Avid Bookshop
Athens, Georgia
6:30 – 7:30 PM

10/15 Lemuria Books
Jackson, Mississippi
4:30 – 5:30 PM

10/17 Twin Cities Book Festival
St. Paul, Minnesota
10:00 AM – 5:00 PM

10/19 Children’s Book World
Haverford, Pennsylvania
4:30 – 5:30 PM

10/21 Politics & Prose
Washington, D.C.
10:30 – 11:30 AM

10/24 Books & Books
Coral Gables, Florida
10:30 – 11:30 AM

There are even more events in November! You can keep track of Elliot and me on my trusty events page.

Kidlit County, Little Elliot's Neighborhood

Now on Exhibit!

Tales of Tails: Animals in Children’s Books, a new exhibit at Seattle’s Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, features our own Little Elliot and many other  friends!

Tale of Tails

“Children from 3-11 can examine and explore how stories use animals to portray human qualities.”

You’ll see artwork and/or books created by  Brian Won, Catia Chien, Isabel Roxas, Jason Chin, Salina Yoon, Gene LuenYang, LeUyen Pham, and many more.

The Wing Luke is a beautiful museum, part community center, part time capsule, situated in Seattle’s International District (or what other cities may refer to as Chinatown). Their mission is “To connect everyone to the rich history, dynamic cultures and art of the Asian Pacific Americans through vivid storytelling and inspiring experiences.”

Tail of Tales 2

Tales of Tails is on display now through mid-December.


Kidlit County, Little Elliot's Neighborhood

The Polka Dot Express: Little Elliot’s Big Adventure!

On October 6, Little Elliot’s adventures continue in Little Elliot, Big Family. There have been so many people who have helped get Little Elliot into the hands of young readers – I like to consider those people Elliot’s BIG EXTENDED FAMILY.

This Fall, Little Elliot is going on a BIG adventure across the country to visit his big family! And by Elliot, I mean the adorable MerryMakers plush! Elliot will travel from school to school in a box filled with small treasures. Because we know how much Elliot loves small treasures.

Little Elliot's Treasures

Elliot loves small treasures, and now he wants to share them with your class! Help grow his collection and see what other classes have added too!

All participating classrooms will receive a copy of Little Elliot, Big Family. Once Elliot arrives, we hope you will add a small treasure to his box and add your city to a map he’ll travel with before sending him along to his next destination!

There are only so many classrooms Elliot can visit in a year, so sign up now by submitting your information here! You’ll receive more information from Macmillan soon after signing up.

Meanwhile, happy treasure hunting!



Kidlit County, Little Elliot's Neighborhood

Little Elliot, BIG REVIEWS!

It’s been a really great week for Little Elliot! Little Elliot, Big Family, the follow up to Little Elliot, Big City, received starred reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Kirkus, as well as a very positive review from School Library Journal: LittleElliot_BigFamily_star

“Curato fleshes out Little Elliot’s personality in this installment—there are glimmers of a character with real depth beneath his cutie-pie visage—while continuing to come up with wonderful, Hopperesque images of a bygone New York.” Publishers Weekly
read the full review here

Employing a restrained text, Curato mines the visuals for emotional impact…Young children will easily relate to Elliot’s experience of loneliness and his relief at inclusion, both convincingly captured in this elegant tale.” Kirkus
read the full review here

“…this picture book is warm and inviting. The illustrations are rich and interesting…The art creates an inviting atmosphere that draws readers in and keeps them lingering on each page, while the text tells an appealing story of family and friendship.”  School Library Journal

I can’t wait to share Big Family with everyone this October!!