Growing up is a big deal, especially when you're still waiting to do the growing part! It's the elation of hitting a home run, the joy of ice-cream trucks, and the delight of revenge on lunch-money bullies. But it's also the disappointment of being too small to ride that ride and the frustration of being picked last. Complemented by Mike Reed's energetic artwork, award-winning author and poet Jaime Adoff effortlessly channels the hijinks, hardships, and high hopes of the little guy in this fresh, funny, and uplifting poetry collection that reminds us all what it's like to be small.
As all those petite, wannabe-tall yet slow-to-grow youngsters know, life as a small fry can have its disadvantages. Each of Adoff’s 19 free-verse poems tells a different, complete story and describes, often in a rapping rhythm, various scenarios with which kids of all sizes will identify. Augmented by Reed’s richly colored pastel/crayon drawings, each first-person voice expresses the frustrations of children who must contend with bullies or the dreaded “you have to be this tall…to ride me” amusement-park signs. Whether it’s having Dad bring encyclopedia volumes to the movies to see “high above these big head trees” or cannily choosing a sport that capitalizes on “my four foot frame” to “DODGE the / BALL / like it wasn’t there at all” or, as “Small Soldier,” accomplishing “my mission, almost impossible” to retrieve, commando style, the Wiffle ball from one enormous and ferocious-looking bulldog’s doghouse, a positive attitude can cut the world of big and tall right down to a manageable size. Cathartic and encouraging fun. (Picture book/poetry. 6-8)KIRKUS REVIEW
Adoff, Jaime (Author) , Reed, Mike (Illustrator)
Nov 2008. 32 p. Dutton, hardcover, $16.99. (9780525469353). 811.
This collection of 19 poems zooms in from the viewpoint of kids considered to be “small fry.” There’s the
boy whose dad brings an encyclopedia volume for him to sit on in the movie theater so he can see “above
the big head trees.” In “Air Shortness,” a boy is too short for basketball but just right for dodge ball; the
four lines in “No Fun Allowed!” express how the kid misses the height requirement for the carnival ride;
and “Small Soldier” demonstrates the seemingly impossible mission of rescuing a Wiffle ball from
Bongo’s doghouse. First-person voices, rhymes, and free verse tap into the feelings of looking up to big
sister, being first in line for ice cream but chosen last for the team, and paying the lunch-money bully with
Monopoly bills. Expressive, soft-edged illustrations are spot-on at capturing motions and emotions of kids
who are height-challenged. Remember: “There are no small ball players. / Just small bats.”- BOOKLIST— Julie Cummins