Kidlit County, Little Elliot's Neighborhood

Little Elliot plush now available!

The wait is over! You can now have your very own Little Elliot plush to cuddle and hug and read with! Many thanks to my friends at MerryMakers for bringing him to life!


My grandmother gave me an elephant for my first Christmas. He had a wind-up lullaby that would play “It’s a Small World.” For many years, I would wind it up and let it play the sweet song when I was going to sleep. We had many adventures together, and I am so excited to think about all the adventures Little Elliot will have with his new friends.


My little white and blue friend would later serve as one of the inspirations for Little Elliot.


Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find my old elephant friend for many years (he is rumored to be living in my parents’ attic). I found this cousin of his online. He and Elliot have become fast friends. They have a lot to say to each other–they’re all ears!!

Little Elliot has been kid-tested, author-illustrator approved! He’ll make a great friend for kids of any age. Trust me, I did not give final sign-off until he met all of my huggability requirements.


for scale and adorableness…

You can order your Little Elliot online, or ask your bookstore if they carry him (and if they don’t, they will likely order him for you).

Illustration Station

SCBWI Bulletin Cover & Interview

I had the honor and privilege of making the cover art for The Society of Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators May/June bulletin! I even got interviewed like a famous person! Unfortunately, only members can view the bulletin, but they’ve allowed me to repost the interview. If you are a children’s writer or illustrator, I highly recommend joining!

Ricky Raccoon in Space! Just another casual day...

Ricky Raccoon in Space! Just another casual day…


A Chat with May/June 2013 Cover Illustrator Mike Curato

by Sherrill Kushner

MICHAEL CURATO, WINNER of the 2012 SCBWI Winter Conference Portfolio Showcase, was born in Nanuet, New York. He earned his B.A. in illustration from Syracuse University, worked as a graphic designer for Microsoft and Amazon, led an in-house creative team

for, and is cofounder of Queer Getting Married, a website for gay couples to create customized wedding invitations. Henry Holt Books for Young Readers signed him on for a three-book series starring his Little Elliot, starting fall 2014. In 2010, he illustrated Amy Jones’ Mabel McNabb and the Most Boring Day Ever.

SCBWI: What were you like as a kid? MIKE CURATO: I was obsessed with drawing and wrote my own stories. My first book was an illustrated cookbook with such culinary classics as “PB&J Sandwich”. After begging my mother not to send me back to pee-wee basketball, she enrolled me in art class. Continue reading

Kidlit County, Little Elliot's Neighborhood

What’s In a Name?

I suppose it’s time I made it official: Elly’s name is changing to Elliot. The main reason is that there are other elephant characters in print out there who have similar names. My publisher and I do not want Elly to be mistaken for any other elephant, as he’s obviously a unique little creature. At least Elliot sounds like Elly with an extra “ot” at the end, so I may occasionally use “Elly” as a nickname in conversation. I just want to clarify now so people don’t look at me funny when I call him Elliot.

This also brings up an interesting point. When I have told people about the new name, a common reaction has been, “GASP! I thought Elly was a girl! Why did you decide to change the sex?” In actuality, Elly has always been, in my mind, a boy. However, I have never “corrected” anyone who referred to him as a she. I like that Elly has been a bit androgynous. I think that whether this character is male or female is irrelevant. It is a polka-dotted elephant. Obviously, we are in the land of fantasy right now. There are no bits that need covering, and I do not have plans for Elliot to reproduce in the series. I think it’s safe to say that Elliot’s gender is a non-issue.

I originally tried writing the story with non-gender specific pronouns. I liked that Elly naturally became a boy or a girl in different people’s minds. However, this proved too difficult. The story is not about how the character is androgynous, and playing the pronoun game called too much attention to itself. To clarify, I think a gender neutral main character would be awesome, but maybe not for this project; it would have to be the focal point of the story. That said, Elliot may have a little friend who you will meet in the first book who finds it a bit easier to be gender-neutral!

To all of you who have called Elly/Elliot a girl, please, do not apologize. You can keep on thinking about her as a she, because he doesn’t mind. Elliot has much more important things to worry about, like how he’s going to get his next cupcake!!!

Elliot is an equal-opportunity cupcake eater.

Elliot is an equal-opportunity cupcake eater.


Meet My New Foster Child, Nyika

With the advent of Elly’s recent success, I thought it only appropriate that he and I give thanks by paying it forward to his brethren. Last night I read an article on MSNBC: “Elephant population dwindles as ivory demand grows; how to foster a baby elephant.” It did not take much time before I was pulling out my credit card. Meet Nyika.

Nyika is a baby bull who was orphaned because of the illegal ivory trade in Africa. The elephant population in Africa is in peril, as long as the ivory trade continues. Here is a startling excerpt from the article:

“Today there are around 450,000 elephants in Africa, down from 1.3 million in 1979. It is estimated by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature)  that up to 38,000 elephants are killed annually for their tusks. Left unchecked this could see the population of African Elephants wiped out in under 20 years.”

Nyika was found wandering in the wilderness of Kenya, exhausted, desperate for water, and worst of all, completely alone. Several females has recently been found killed in the area, perhaps one of these was his mother.

Nyika now lives at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Nairobi, Kenya. He has lots of new friends there who have similar sad stories, but who now have each other, as well as a loving, dedicated staff to see that they are loved and nourished. He is doing very well, and has found a new family and home.

You too can foster an elephant in need. It’s only $50 a year to help save a species with whom we share many of the same emotions. Elephants also have the best memories, so they will never forget your kindness! Elly, Nyika and I thank you for anything you can do to help.