I Am Small
I Am Small
My name is Mimi.
I am very small.
I might as well be called Mini.
At home, Daddy, Mommy, Nicholas and Marie are all taller than me.
So is Gus, our dog!
It's the same thing at school.
All my friends tower over me.
And sidewalk crowds are the worst!
I wouldn't be surprised if nobody noticed me.
Qin Leng's I Am Small tells the story of Mimi, a girl who is—by all accounts—small. Mimi hates being the tiniest one at home, school, and all around town. But little does she know, she's soon in for a big surprise!
This is a cute story about the trials and triumphs of being small. While Mimi laments her size, wishing she was big enough to see over the counter at the bakery or reach higher on the blackboard at school, her siblings and friends envy her hide-and-seek skills and the fact she's always in the front row for class pictures. Even Mimi admits that there are some advantages to her size, like swimming in the bathtub and snuggling in her parents' bed, but she is still frustrated that everyone (including her dog) is larger than she is. Then one afternoon, Mimi discovers that she's no longer the littlest at all, now that her new—very tiny—baby brother has arrived.
Leng's watercolours, which add to the charm of I Am Small, use a soft palette that features muted backgrounds accented with bright shades of colour (such as the sunny yellow of Mimi's jacket). The illustrations do a wonderful job of highlighting just how small Mimi is by, for example, showing her gazing up at a giant fish at the market or standing on stacks of books as she tries to make herself taller at home. There is also a fun bit of foreshadowing in the images as Mimi's mother is shown with a pregnant belly, something Mimi, herself, seems oblivious to. These creative touches, along with the light colours and wispy movement of the illustrations, bring a lovely note of whimsy to the tale.
The ending of this story is sweet as Mimi meets her new brother and learns that she is no longer the smallest one around. However, an interesting addition to this moment could have seen Mimi changing her perspective on what it means to be "big". Throughout the book, she is concerned with her physical size, especially since she is not only the littlest at home but also among her own classmates. As the story ends, Mimi is happy to have discovered someone smaller than she. But a clearer indication that she'd also realized she will now always be a big sister (even if she's still a small girl) would have been a highly effective way to finish off what is already a strong tale.
Even without this addition, however, I Am Small is an enjoyable story. Mimi is adorable, and her frustrations over being tiny will be understood by anyone who has ever felt like they needed to take up more space. This is also a fun tale for soon-to-be siblings getting ready to become the big ones in the house.
Meredith Cleversey, a librarian in Cambridge, Ontario, loves to read, write, and live in a world of pure imagination.