Our Big Little Place
Our Big Little Place
Sometimes I hear Mom and Dad talking, and they say our place is too small. But it always seems big to me. It's in a big building, with a lot of other people living in it, and there's other big buildings just like it all around us. If you look outside the window, past the balcony there's a whole city.
Although this book begins as though the little boy, who is the main character, is going to be moving somewhere with his family, it is a book about the importance of home.
James Conan has written a very nice tale about the life of a little boy in the family apartment. The boy's imagination is paramount in this book and is illustrated convincingly by Nicolle Lalonde. The story covers many facets of the boy's day-to-day life. There are games played in the park outside the apartment building. The park is described as his backyard and is the place he meets and plays with his friends. Boredom only occurs when his mom and dad are at work, the weather is miserable, and he has to stay inside with his aunt who, compared to his parents, is not as good at playing with him. On these days, the little boy meets up with friends in the hallway, and they race around the floor until they cause a bit of a disaster with neighbors. When the boy’s parents return from work, there are more creative games played like pirates or basketball. At bedtime, the boy likes being tucked in and being reassured that the world is safe and so is he.
I will note again the author and illustrator's intent to emphasize the importance of family and friends (and pet cat) in defining what home is. The message is clearly delivered that people in the home and in the community are what make and shape the little boy's life. There is not one mention or illustration that refers to screen time as a part of this family's lifestyle. Technology is minimized to one solitary Pixel (the name of the cat). The boy plays with Pixel. Pixel is illustrated in every part of the story and is a reference to Lalonde's love of meeting neighborhood cats.
Our Big Little Place is a great exploration of what home and community are in the eyes of a small child growing up in a big city.
John Dryden is a teacher-librarian in the Cowichan Valley, British Columbia.