My children and I are long-term fans of Lauren Child, and we have a great number of her books on our bookshelves.
This particular title is full of her trademark style – collages of pattern and texture combined with bold, colourful drawings that are deceptively simple in style but convey a whole world of emotion in those simple strokes.
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The New Small Person tells as story many of us will be familiar – the tale of what happens when your parents bring home a new baby.
Elmore Green is quite content being an only child. Being an only child means not having anyone disturb his stuff or eat his jelly beans, and he can watch all his favourite cartoons any time he likes.
But the new small person changes everything.
Elmore’s little brother inserts himself into Elmore’s life, disrupting his possessions, licking his jelly beans and forcing Elmore to retreat to the tree tops for some peace and quiet.
Yet gradually Elmore also finds that life with a brother has its upsides too. Now there is someone to share the dark of bedtime with. Someone who understands what’s really important in a way that parents never can.
Lauren Child’s books are full of warmth and humour, and the New Small Person is no exception. Told from Elmore’s perspective, his gradual thawing towards his sibling is made complete at the end of the book.
In a lovely sharing-of-jelly-beans moment, the new person is finally referred to as his brother, and given an actual name.
By the same author
Do I need to mention Clarice Bean or Charlie and Lola? Lauren Child is obviously a phenomenally talented and popular author/illustrator, and also the outgoing Children’s Laureate (2017-2019).
Just one of her many Charlie and Lola books! If you’ve seen the TV series, you’ll know what they are like…
Lauren Child’s latest is a bit of a departure from her usual frenetic style. Featuring a brother who is always good, and a sister who is always…not… the story looks at what happens when the boy decides to be more like his sister.
An interesting exploration of expectations and how labelling children as certain ‘types’ can impact on their freedom of self expression, some parents may balk at the apparent celebration of ‘bad’ behaviour, though I don’t think that is the intended message.
For another, slightly more subtle look at this, try the Christmas classic ‘The Empty Stocking‘ by Richard Curtis (yes, that one) and Rebecca Cobb.
Picture Books with Diverse Characters
Have you seen my full list of the best 23 picture books with diverse characters? Just like The New Small Person, all of these picture books feature black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) boys as main characters. Something that’s as rare as proverbial hen’s teeth in children’s books, and a problem I’ve written about here.
Check out the list to find out more about our favourites, and take a peek inside. If you like the look of this book, I’m sure you’ll find some others to love there too!