cover image The Tallest of Smalls

The Tallest of Smalls

Max Lucado, , illus. by Maria Monescillo. . Tommy Nelson, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-4003-1514-7

Inspired by Lucado's adult book, Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear , this earnest if faltering fable is set in Stiltsville, where residents gather daily to learn who's been chosen to receive stilts that will elevate them above “the less and the least,/ the shy and shier,/ the not-cools and have-nots/ who want to go higher.” Among those never selected is Ollie, who is “too common and dull/ for the gang of the cool.” When he finally is given a pair of stilts, Ollie smirks as he towers over others, until birds upset his balance and he tumbles to the ground. Jesus appears to urge him to “Keep your feet on the ground,/ refuse to be stilted” and lets Ollie know that he loves him. Busy, earth-toned cartoons and text in an array of sizes and colors make for some cluttered spreads. Though the verse is clunky and awkward from the outset (“Perhaps you don't know—/ then, maybe you do—/ the Too Smalls of Stiltsville/ and their story for you”), Lucado's fans will likely respond to his message of choosing humility over popularity. Ages 4–7. (Nov.)