The Tale of the Tiny Man

Gecko Pr. Apr. 2022. 36p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781776574094.
PreS-Gr 3–To be fair, the tiny man is only really a bit short in this sweet and complicated story of learning to give and take, and to accept the size and space that love needs to grow properly. In an orderly house, the tiny man lives and is often in tears over his solitude. The world crushes him; there is a mean man who trips him, and a dog that belittles him, and so he sits on his front steps in sorrow, closer to despair, feeling ugly and hated. A large dog with a deliciously curved tail arrives with his cold nose, which he places in the tiny man’s hand. Little by little, treat by treat, and walk by walk, they learn to understand each other. The dog saves the tiny man from the mean man and other irritations, until a darling little girl shows up, and all the tiny man’s despair returns. Will he be too ugly to keep his new doggy friend? There are lessons upon lessons to unpeel in Lindgren’s surprisingly opaque tale, and this is its grace. Aimed at SEL collections or not, Lindgren’s use of an adult as the troubled protagonist gives this story a feeling of safety that every child will respond to. By making his first friend a neutral one, a dog, pity and judgement are removed. Eriksson’s always delicate comic touches provide details to pore over, and her colors make the triumphant friendships at the end a celebration.
VERDICT These are difficult things to navigate, but tender approaches and good will go a long way in a gratifying inclusion aimed for the friendship shelves.

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