cover image Little Nelly’s Big Book

Little Nelly’s Big Book

Pippa Goodhart, illus. by Andy Rowland. Bloomsbury, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-59990-779-6

“[B]ooks should always have pictures” is the Wildean moral of this sweet comedy sketch of a book, and it’s clear why: a pictureless tome entitled Big Book of Knowledge persuades an elephant named Little Nelly that she’s a mouse (“Mice have big ears. Mice have skinny tails”). Luckily, Nelly collides with an understanding family of real mice (she attempts to sleep in a hole in a wall) that gently nudges her away from her false syllogism and back to her own species—although it is necessary to indulge in some subterfuge (the mice alter a zoo’s “Elephants” sign to read “Zoo Mice”). Astute readers will note that, given British illustrator Rowland’s whimsical rendering style, Little Nelly kind of has a point: both the mice and the elephant share the same sturdy bread-loaf body, and the differences between many of their appendages are simply a matter of scale. However, the slyly funny illustrations and Goodhart’s (Three Little Ghosties) succinct, poker-faced prose make an important point: you can correct a friend’s wrongheaded thinking without making him or her feel foolish. Ages 4–8. (July)