Wednesday, September 10, 2014
The New Small Person by Lauren Child (Picture Puffin)
Lauren Child, the genius behind Charlie and Lola and Clarice Bean has come up with yet another brilliant children's picture book - and we have a comfortable prediction to make...
Everyone is going to fall in love with Elmore Green.
"The New Small Person" is the story of Elmore, and life is pretty sweet when you're an only child. You get a room to yourself, you have everyone's attention - and every little thing you do is seen as pretty special. Most importantly of all though, NO ONE ever messes with your jelly bean jar (or steals your favourite ones, the orange ones).
I was wondering how Charlotte would relate to this book - you see she's an only child and is likely to remain one, so when the book changes tack half way through - and Elmore is confronted by "The New Small Person" the focus shifts from Elmore to his new little brother. Little brother now gets all the attention. Worse still, little brother eventually moves into Elmore's room and plays with his things, borrows them without asking AND dips into that jelly bean jar as well.
Elmore is at a loss until one night something happens that entirely changes the way Elmore looks at "the new small person" - and changes Elmore's entire way of thinking for the better.
Lauren Child makes it look easy to produce a book that wraps the reader (and the read-to) tightly in Elmore's life. The "something" that happens part way through the book is almost an air-punching moment of brilliant bliss.
Charlotte loved this book, and we talked a lot about why she's so utterly special to us (for complicated reasons we won't go into, we always wanted more than one child but the one we have is brilliant, bright and fantastic and we're utterly overjoyed to have her in our lives). So though she's unlikely to ever have to worry about a little brother or sister re-arranging her Barbies, pulling her books out of the book case (and putting them back in the wrong place), or pinching her dressing up clothes, she loved this book to bits.
I loved this book because it heavily reminded me of the great Ezra Jack Keats, not just for the obvious reasons (the reasons that this book should and will receive a lot of praise and attention for - deservedly so!) but because of the absolutely pitch-perfect observations of childhood, the timing of each story point, and just that gorgeous essence of 'coolness' that you always found in Keats books, reproduced by Lauren here. So we'll underline that. It's a durned cool book!
Charlotte's best bit: Charlotte was quite taken by Elmore's favourite game, arranging his things in a huge line that stretched all around his bedroom right down to the front door (helped by the new small person who donated some of his things to help with the line!)
Daddy's Favourite bit: Lauren Child makes it look SO EASY to produce a book that is this cool, with a solid message at its heart and a look and feel that should ensure it becomes something of a modern classic - rightly so!
(Kindly sent to us for review by Picture Puffin)