Perfect Pairing – Thinks Small

With the rush of shoppers and tourists and selfie-sticks in midtown Manhattan this weekend, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed. Maybe you felt similarly, wherever you ventured.


Small in the City

Author & Illustrator: Sydney Smith

Publisher/Date: Neal Porter Books, an imprint of Holiday House Publishing/2019

Ages: 6-10

Themes: size, city living, feeling lost, pet cat

Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):

It can be a little scary to be small in a big city, but this child has some good advice for a very special friend in need.

When you’re small in the city, people don’t see you, and loud sounds can scare you, and knowing what to do is sometimes hard. But this little kid knows what it’s like, and knows the neighborhood. That makes for some pretty good advice for an even smaller friend.

Like, alleys can be good shortcuts, but some are too dark.

Or, there are lots of good hiding places in the city, like under a mulberry bush or up a walnut tree.

And, if the city is too loud and scary, a small one can always just go back home, where it’s safe and quiet.

In his first author-illustrated picture book, Sydney Smith tells a contemplative, quiet story from the perspective of a child.

Read a review at Picture Book Builders.


Small World

Author: Ishta Mercurio

Illustrator: Jen Corace

Publisher/Date: Abrams Books for Young Readers/2019

Ages: 4-8

Themes: size, shapes, growing up, perspective

Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):

When Nanda is born, the whole of her world is the circle of her mother’s arms. But as she grows, the world grows too. It expands outward—from her family, to her friends, to the city, to the countryside. And as it expands, so does Nanda’s wonder in the underlying shapes and structures patterning it: cogs and wheels, fractals in snowflakes. Eventually, Nanda’s studies lead her to become an astronaut and see the small, round shape of Earth far away. A geometric meditation on wonder, Small World is a modern classic that expresses our big and small place in the vast universe.

Read a review at Kirkus Reviews and an interview with Mercurio at Writing for Kids (While Raising Them).

I paired these books because both deal with the concept of being small, and they both include amazing illustrations. Smith’s low word-count debut, Small in the City, follows a young child as she navigates a snowy city, reflects on being small in that city, and searches for a special someone. In contrast, Small World, Mercurio’s picture book debut, is more concept book and shows how Nando’s world expands from the circle of her mother’s arms to encompass the entire world.

Looking for similar reads? See Kirkus Reviews list of Best Picture Books of 2019 about Small People in a Big World.


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