'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.' - author Jackie French

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Review: How Big is Too Small?

For anyone who has ever begged their older child to include a younger one in their play, this emotive story will call to you. It’s a beguiling blend of cleverness and originality. It’s simple, yet wise.

A feast for the eyes as well as the tongue, it must be read aloud for full appreciation of the classical rhyming verse. The information the artwork reveals is another story on its own. It will be read and examined over and over. It’s one of those books that you can’t get enough of, as you find something new in it every time you open the cover.

Sam is small in stature and young in age. As far as he knows, there is no one his size in the neighbourhood for him to play with. His older brother has lots of friends. Sam wants to kick the ball, and run and shout with the other boys. But they don’t want a little kid in their group. He’s told repeatedly, he’s just too small.

‘I went to my room and I slammed my red door…and I turned to the mirror that hangs on my wall and thought to myself, How big is too small?’ Sam reflects on, and compares small things trying to find an answer. This action speaks volumes on how some children question the world around them.

I learned a great deal about Sam from the illustrations. He’s alone a lot. He’s a thinker/ponderer. Looking around his room you can see all the things he’s interested in; things that fill time. There are trains on the floor, model planes on a bookshelf full of science books, and lots of pencils and writing paraphernalia scattered on the floor.  On the following page, a deck of cards on the bed, books about space, an atlas, rocks, and a work-book filled with diagrams. Andrews Joyner has done a brilliant job interpreting the text in a thought-provoking and mindful way.

Sam watches the boys play. Leaves fall to the ground, and he sees them as small but essential in the larger scheme of things. He ponders on how trees were tiny seeds, and that got him thinking, ‘How small is too small?’

When the ball gets stuck in the spouting, someone small is needed to climb up the vine and retrieve it. What Sam finds up there changes his life and he no longer has to worry about being left out all the time, and especially not, about being too small.

This one goes on the shelf to be shared on the couch.

Title: How Big is Too Small?
Author: Jane Godwin
Illustrator: Andrew Joyner
Publisher: Penguin, $24.99 RRP
Publication Date: 22 April 2015
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9780670070756
For ages: 4 - 8
Type: Picture Book

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