Small Things by Mel Tregonning | SLJ Review

Gr 3-6 –In this incredibly moving tale, a boy experiences difficulties—feeling left out, performing poorly on tests, etc.

redstarTREGONNING, Mel. Small Things. illus. by Mel Tregonning. 40p. Pajama Pr. Mar. 2018. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781772780420.

Gr 3-6 –In this incredibly moving tale, a boy experiences difficulties—feeling left out, performing poorly on tests, etc. Dark thoughts consume his body and turn into monsters. Not knowing what to do, he suffers in silence. Only when his sister reveals her own hidden pain does the boy realize he’s not alone. This wordless, picture book–size graphic novel is rendered in beautiful gradients of pencil. It was created by the late Tregonning and completed by Shaun Tan (The Arrival), whose own style is similarly characterized by surrealism. Cute character designs with bobble heads and circular eyes make the work pensive rather than depressing. This is a sympathetic examination of anxiety that never assigns blame; instead, the authors acknowledge the complexity of the situation and that resolutions aren’t easy. Readers will learn that, like the nameless protagonist, we can recognize hurt in others, reach out to them, and help one another move forward. VERDICT With direction from educators, guidance counselors, or parents, this poignant title will resonate with those dealing with mental illness. A superb example of bibliotherapy.–Rachel Forbes, Oakville Public Library, Ont. This review was published in the School Library Journal March 2018 issue.

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