Monday, April 10, 2006

Recommended by Library Association

From the Manitoba Library Association:

"Dad," says Henry. "Tell me about when I was small."
"When you were small we put you on the top of the Christmas tree instead of the angel."

When the veil of forgetfulness begins to obscure our memory, we sometimes wonder what our life was like when we were younger. So it is with young Henry, the protagonist of Sara O'Leary's When You Were Small. Henry makes the mistake of asking his playful father to tell about when Henry was small. The father then proceeds to reel off a litany of wildly exaggerated episodes from Henry's early life.

If we are to believe Henry's father, when Henry was small, he was little enough to bathe in a teapot; he was so tiny he was lost in his mother’s purse; he was able to toboggan on a ruler; he even slept in a slipper. Henry may have been small, but this book is big on humour. My own two children enjoyed it immensely. After reading it aloud to them, they immediately wanted me to read it again. My two-year-old laughed out loud several times. Her favourite was the episode when a toothbrush was used to brush Henry’s hair. My six-year-old's favourite part was the use of Henry as a chess piece to replace the missing knight.

Julie Morstad provides the illustrations to accompany O'Leary's concise text. Like the text, there is charm in the illustration's simplicity. It takes talent to make complex things seem simple, and both O'Leary and Morstad succeed in this regard.

Like me, you will enjoy sharing this book with the young readers in your life. This is a fun book that will free the imagination and set you on a path toward thinking of what life might have been like when YOU were small.


- Gregory Bryan, a University of British Columbia PhD student, recently joined the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba.

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