cover image Little Big

Little Big

Jonathan Bentley. Eerdmans, $16 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8028-5462-9

“I am little,” says Bentley’s toddler narrator, who is in a ruminative mood. But what if he were bigger—really bigger—with legs like a giraffe, hands like a gorilla, or a mouth like a crocodile? Surely that would even the playing field with his coolly confident school-age brother. Bentley’s (Audrey’s Tree House) reverie is gorgeous to look at, with a playfully dramatic sense of contrasting scale that makes the boy’s yearning both funny and poignant. The digitally enhanced watercolor and pencil drawings, rendered in colors that have the translucence of Jell-O, mingle the casual chaos of everyday domestic life (floors strewn with books and toys) with manifestations of the child’s vivid fantasies, as when he imagines himself riding bareback and no-hands on a sumptuously spotted giraffe that gallops across two pages, while his brother pedals pitifully behind on a two-wheeler. Such are the visual glories of the book that it’s easy to forgive the less-than-credible reconciliation between the siblings and the narrator’s too neat summation of his newfound self-esteem: “Little legs, little hands, little mouth. Perfectly little.” Ages 3–7. (Sept.)