cover image Three Feet Small

Three Feet Small

Michael J. Rosen, , ILLUS. BY VALERI GORBACHEV. . Harcourt/Gulliver, $16 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-15-204938-6

The narrator, a bear cub, fears that he's permanently stuck at "just three feet small." Will life always be beyond his reach—or at least require him to use a booster seat? Then Grandpa remarks one day that the cub isn't so easy to toss in the air anymore. Other key indicators follow: outgrown clothes, his bike seat suddenly needs raising, and finally the incontrovertible proof of a growth chart: "I'm taller right now than ever before!" the cub exclaims. "I'm a little less little, a little more big." With plainspoken empathy, Rosen (Elijah's Angel ) articulates his hero's frustration without turning him into a whiner. Readers—especially those on the lower end of the growth curve—will commiserate with the cub's fortitude, and eagerly follow along as he surpasses one critical benchmark after another. Like Rosen, Gorbachev (The Giant Hug ) evinces a knowing but always sympathetic perspective. His sprightly, anthropomorphized animal characters, rendered in pen-and-watercolor illustrations portray a benevolent world; the inhabitants may not be able to help the cub grow any faster, but everyone's eager for him to measure up. Ages 3-7. (May)