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Monday, September 3, 2018

I Am Small, written and illustrated by Qin Leng. Kids Can Press, 2018. $18.99 ages 4 and up

"Being small really bugs me.
When will I grow big enough
to take up as much space in the
world as everyone else?

My feet barely reach the edge
of the seat on the bus. I bounce
all over the place on the way to

At Olivia's bakery, I can't ... "

Have I told you in previous posts how much I love Qin Leng's work? Of course, I have. Some of my favorite books for little ones have been illustrated in her inimitable style, always with warmth and charm. In this first book where she has done both words and pictures (I think!), she tackles the difficulty that comes with feeling ignored.

Mimi does not like being the small one in the family. Everyone is taller, even the dog. Same thing at school and on the city sidewalk. No matter where Mimi goes, small is the name of the game. Sure that there is no upside, Mimi is reminded by others that being small affords some pretty cool advantages.

"Why are you complaining?" Remy
asked me the other day. "You're always
first in the cafeteria line and you get
the biggest piece of cake."

Other proof is offered - squeezing into the smallest hiding spots, front row for all class photos, secret and comfortable spaces. For Mimi, none of the arguments outweigh the fact that many things are beyond reach. Well, there might be a few good things!

"Like snuggling in bed between Mommy and Daddy ...
Or playing Knights with Gus ...
Or practicing for the synchronized swimming
championship in the bathtub (my pretend pool)."

A surprise at home after school one day has lasting effects for Mimi and the family.

I appreciate the first person narrative. Kids will surely feel empathy for those issues that bother Mimi, as her telling is so personal. Lots of white space in the pen, ink, and watercolor artwork keep Mimi in focus throughout the telling. There are so many delightful details that allow a close look at family, the family home, the community, even school life. When the perspective changes for Mimi, she has some heartwarming advice to give.

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