Saturday, May 2, 2015

Review: The New Small Person by Lauren Child

Happy Saturday readers! It's a big day for us - the first-ever Independent Bookstore Day, plus Free Comic Book Day. No matter if you're celebrating one or both, this is a good opportunity to get out and support your local bookstores and comic shops, and find some terrific reads in the process.

And when you're out shopping today, remember to buy diverse books and comics when you find them. A lot is changing in the industry, and publishers are recognizing that readers want diversity. Let's show them they are doing the right thing when they publish diverse books and comics by supporting them with our dollars and our library checkouts.

Okay, off my soapbox and on to the review. I was thrilled when I saw that Lauren Child was publishing a book with African American characters. We've read a few of her Charlie and Lola books (I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato, anyone?) and really enjoyed them. I'm happy to report that The New Small Person, featuring Elmore and his little brother Albert, is not only diverse but exactly what you'd expect from Lauren Child: funny, touching and full of very recognizable pint-sized people.

Elmore is a pretty cool kid and he's livin' the life as the center of his parents' attention. All well and good until someone else, some *small person* comes along and starts throwing off Elmore's groove. It starts with the choice of cartoons (Elmore doesn't like small people TV) and pretty soon it's toys being knocked over and then the violation of Elmore's super-special jar of jelly beans. Not a good scene. What's worse, the small person isn't staying small - he's getting bigger, and the bigger he gets the more Elmore finds that his life is being changed in ways he doesn't at all care for.

While this isn't a radical departure from many other new-sibling books, The New Small Person is notable because it is sensitively done and really shows the relationship between the brothers deepening. Elmore isn't persuaded by any dramatic means but gradually comes to the realization that maybe having two smallish persons in the house isn't a bad thing. Still, there are lines to be drawn - Elmore's no pushover, you know.

Overall this is a great choice to share with older siblings as well as younger ones, to help shed some light on the big-little dynamic either before or after a small person enters the home. Tip: best read with jelly beans on hand (especially orange ones, a favorite of small persons).

The New Small Person by Lauren Child, published by Candlewick Press
Ages 3-6
Source: Library

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