Review: When I Was Small by Sara O’Leary


When I Was Small by Sara O’Leary, illustrated by Julie Morstad

Henry asks his parents what they were like when they were small.  The book starts out normally enough with his mother explaining that she was called Dot because her full name, Dorothea, was too big for her.  But then things get creative!  Dot was so small she wore the same shoes as her doll.  She swam in the birdbath.  She jumped rope with a piece of yarn.  Her bed was a mitten.  Her father built her a doll house, and she lived in it.  At the end of this story from his mother, the two of them agree that one of the reasons that his mother looked forward to growing up was to share stories with a child of her own. 

O’Leary writes with a quiet joy that infuses the entire book.  There is a gentle playfulness throughout and children will immediately know that this is a story being told and not the truth.  Morstad’s illustrations have a delicacy to them that works particularly well with the more tall tale parts of the story.  The illustrations have a sweetness to them that make me think of the old Golden Books.  They are never saccharine thanks to their whimsy.

This is the third in the series about Henry, but the first one that I have read.  The first book in the series won the 2007 Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award in Canada, so that one is definitely worth seeking out too.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from pdf received from Simply Read Books.

You can also view the trailer below:

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