Recommended for readers 4-7
Originally published 2014 in Swedish as Min Egen Lilla Liten, this is a touching story about a lonely Creature that allows for some interpretation with readaloud audiences. A lonely gray Creature lives inside a mountain cave, living in darkness because the sun will hurt her; possibly kill her. She longs for something to love and care for: “someone small to sing to and care for”. She tries to share her affection with the moon, whose rays shatter when she attempts an embrace. But one ay, a stray spark from the sun finds its way into her cave, and her heart soars. The spark tells her stories about the sun, and the colors visible in the daylight: the blue ocean; the yellow deserts; the green forests; the animals and birds that live above. While the Creature is enchanted by the spark, calling it her Little Small, the spark must hurry back to the sun before dark.
The Creature in this story is gendered female in the text, but this is open to interpretation: The Creature can easily take on any preferred pronoun the reader wishes; it’s a gray, amorphous shape with large, expressive eyes, a bulbous, black nose, and sharp white teeth. It’s nowhere near scary; rather, it’s kind of cute. Creature’s story is the big thing here: the desire to love and care for a Little Small; the same desire that fuels parents and caregivers; the same desire that moves children to attach themselves to a Lovey. My Little Small is also a reminder that our time together is short, and to fill those moments with joy – a nice nod to us adults to stop sweating the small stuff. The artwork is bold, with textured grays giving life to Creature and her environs, and bold, bright colors populating the spark’s tales of life outside. The spark itself is tiny and bright, giving off rings of warm, yellow light.
Words Without Borders calls My Little Small a “sweetly eccentric book”, and that seems about perfect, so I’ll leave it at that. It may not appeal to every reader, but it does reach down and get to the heart of the desire to love and protect. Sunrise, 2013 comic by Heather L. Sheppard, from a few years ago, makes a good readalike with absolutely adorable artwork. If you can find it (it’s a digital comic, available through Comixology), give it a read.