Total Pageviews

Saturday, January 7, 2017

A Small Thing ... but Big, written by Tony Johnston and illustrated by Hadley Hooper. A Neal Porter Book, Roaring Brook Press, Macmillan. Raincoast, 2016. $24.99 ages 4 and up

"Lizzie held the leash,
just so. And she and
the quiet old man
and the quiet dog,
Cecile, walked
quietly around
the park.

A small thing, but big."

Lizzie and her mom love visits to the park. So, it is not surprising to find them there this fine day. Upon entering its gate, Mom waves to an older man walking his dog. She finds a spot for enjoying her book on a park bench, from which she can keep watch on her adventurous little one. Suddenly, Lizzie stops in her tracks. We see in shadow that she has come a bit too close to that dog. The owner suggests quietly that she need not worry, softly answering Lizzie's timid questions. His reassuring tone, and the dog's friendly countenance, win her over enough that she is willing to offer a pat on the dog's head. Cecile (the dog) seems rapturous.

Lizzie is duly impressed that she has faced her fear. It is ' a small thing, but big,' she is reminded. Cecile is impressed, Lizzie equally so. Soon, they are walking together. Then, Lizzie holds the leash. Mom follows watchfully. After a quiet walk with the man at her side, Lizzie is ready to take a giant leap - she will walk the dog on her own!

Mom and the man watch with pride as the two step out, full of independent spirit.

"Walking a dog alone.
A small thing, but big."

Ms. Johnston handles the telling with warmth, confidence, and grace. She knows young children, their concerns, their willingness to take on new learning. Just as Lizzie has learned to overcome her fear of dogs, the dog's owner has also faced a fear of his own.

"The quiet old man replied,
"Before today, I was very afraid
of children."

Who knew?

Hadley Hooper's relief printmaking and digital techniques are just the ticket for this story about facing fears, making new friends and enjoying summer pastimes. The warm oranges, yellows and greens of the park's setting and the many lovely details will encourage careful consideration of all that is happening here. Wouldn't you like to take a walk right alongside them?

No comments:

Post a Comment