cover image A Small Thing... but Big

A Small Thing... but Big

Tony Johnston, illus. by Hadley Hooper. Roaring Brook/Porter, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-62672-256-9

It’s a glorious day in a classically styled park: big trees line the avenues, and water sparkles in a fountain. Visiting with her mother, Lizzie encounters an elegantly dressed elderly gentleman who is walking his dog, Cecile. The dog seems nice, but Lizzie is fearful. Cecile’s owner sees that Lizzie wants to be brave, however, and with quiet encouragement and a little humor (“Does she bite?” asks Lizzie. “Only her food,” says the man), Lizzie sheds her fears step by step. By the end of the story, she walks Cecile around the park all by herself. It’s a lovely story about a transformative connection that goes both ways, as well as the power of modest revelations—beautifully summed up in the book’s title, which is also a refrain in the text. There’s also just enough reassurance for grownups—Hooper (The Iridescence of Birds) visually establishes that Lizzie’s mother and the gentleman are friends—to assuage any misgivings about stranger danger. Johnston’s (First Grade, Here I Come!) concise, courtly prose and Hooper’s graceful illustrations exude an old-fashioned sweetness. Ages 4–7. [em]Illustrator’s agency: Marlena Agency. (Oct.) [/em]