________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 5 . . . . November 1, 2002

cover

Good to Be Small.

Sean Cassidy.
Toronto, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2002.
32 pp., cloth, $18.95.
ISBN 1-55041-734-7.

Subject Headings:
Sheep-Fiction.
Size-Fiction.

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.

Review by Liz Greenaway.

*** /4

excerpt:

Something was wrong in the barnyard. Mouse looked up from her dinner. Mama Sheep was crying.

"Lamb, La-a-a-mb," she called.

"Where's my la-a-a-mb?"

"Lamb, La-a-a-mb," the other sheep bleated.

"Where's our la-a-a-mb?"

But no lamb ran to its mother's side. Mouse scampered over to Mama Sheep.

"I can help find Lamb," she said.

The sheep shook their heads sadly.

"Too small, too sma-a-a-ll," they bleated.

"You'll see," said Mouse. "Sometimes it's good to be small."

 

When Mama sheep's lamb is missing, Mouse offers to find the lamb, only to be dismissed by the sheep as being "too small." But the determined little mouse doesn't let this discourage her. Instead, she uses her small size to good advantage. Quickly climbing to the tallest tree, she spots the stray lamb in a clearing far away. She employs the help of the other animals, including jumping on the back of a surprised fox to cross the forest and getting a ride on a turtle across the stream. In this ingenious manner, Mouse reaches the lamb and helps it back to the farmyard.

internal art

     This is Sean Cassidy's first picture book both as author and illustrator. Better known as an illustrator of children's books, Sean Cassidy illustrated The Chicken Cat , written by Stephanie McLellan, which won both the Mr. Christie Book Award and the Ruth Schwartz Award. At first glance, the story here seems little more than a variation on the "littlest animal/person/train proves they can succeed" theme. It is through Mouse's creative method of using the "help," knowing or otherwise, of the other animals that sets this story apart.

     The story really comes to life through Cassidy's illustrations. The animals are beautifully drawn and full of character without being anthropomorphic. Rendered in acrylic paints, the illustrations are vibrant and realistic, rich in details, from the forest setting to the expressions of the various creatures. The bravery and determination of the little protagonist becomes clear in the illustrations as the mouse fearlessly throws himself through the air, jumping from the fox's back to the turtle and again from the hawk's back, falling down to reach the lamb.

     Good to be Small would be useful in the classroom as well as a welcome addition to any home or school library.

Recommended.

Liz Greenaway is a former bookseller who is currently at home in Edmonton, AB, with small children.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364

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