The Center for Children’s Literature at the Bank Street College of Education has announced the semi-finalists for the 2019 Irma Black Award. The award is given annually to “an outstanding book for young children—a book in which text and illustrations are inseparable, each enhancing and enlarging on the other to produce a singular whole.” Here are the semi-finalists:
Stumpkin by Lucy Ruth Cummins
Sun! One in a Billion by Stacy McAnulty, illustrated by Stevie Lewis
The Wall in the Middle of the Book by Jon Agee
We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins
I Am Small by Qin Leng (9781525301155)
Mimi is very small for her age. She’s the shortest in her class at school and the shortest in her family too. Mimi thinks about all of the problems with being the shortest, like viewing pastries in the bakery or being unable to write higher on the blackboard. Her friends see it differently. They point out that she wins at hide-and-seek, that she gets to be first in line at lunch and gets the biggest piece of cake. At home there are advantages too. Mimi can fit between Mom and Dad in their bed, she can swim in the bathtub, and she can even ride on the back of their dog! So when someone even small than Mimi joins the family, Mimi knows just what to say.
Leng has illustrated many several books for children and this is her first time authoring a book. She has created an ode to the challenges and beauty of being small that children on the small side will easily relate to. As the book progresses, Mimi’s tone about her size changes to a much more positive one, just in time for her new little brother to appear. There is a focus on self-acceptance in this picture book that will shine no matter what your size.
Leng’s illustrations are whimsical and fresh. In Mimi, she has created a wonderfully androgynous little girl grappling with her size. Leng populates her pages with small touches and details that bring her scenes to life. Just the feel of characters clothing and the play of movement on the page are special.
A book about self-esteem that proves that size doesn’t matter. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from library copy.