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Page history last edited by RichiesPicks 6 years ago

2 August 2014 THE SMALLEST GIRL IN THE SMALLEST GRADE by Justin Roberts and Christian Robinson, ill., Putnam, September 2014, 40p., ISBN: 978-0-399-25743-8


“And where is the harmony?

Sweet harmony.”

-- Nick Lowe, “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding”


Sally McCabe is the smallest girl in the smallest grade.  Quiet and seemingly invisible to those around her, she’s a keen observer of what is going on at her school and in her world.  And what so often is going on around her is hurtful.


“She saw Kevin McKuen get pushed off a slide--

and the oncoming tears that he wanted to hide.

And she’ll never forget that Parent-Teacher Day

when Billy’s much larger father suddenly dragged him away.

But through all the mean words and all the cold stares,

no one even noticed Sally was there.

And they certainly didn’t know, or at least didn’t mention,

that Sally was paying super extra special attention.”


Sally’s observing continues quietly until one day in the cafeteria.  When she has seen enough, Sally suddenly steps out of the lunchroom line, raises her finger in the air and declares:


“‘I’m tired of seeing this terrible stuff.

Stop hurting each other!  This is enough!”


And so it is that the smallest girl in the smallest grade sparks a movement at her school.  Many schoolmates join her in opposition to the hurtfulness, and begin acting kinder and more considerately toward one another.


Christian Robinson’s colored pencil illustrations depict a diverse student population.  I love the way he requires us to be keen observers in order to see what’s going on.  In several of the spreads, a cursory glance shows a bunch of kids playing on a playground.  But when we look closer, focusing on the trees instead of the forest, we can see the hurtful squabbling, shoving, and excluding that Sally is observing. 


What specific incident incites Sally to cross that line and become a young activist?  The text doesn’t provide an answer, but a careful look at the illustrations makes me think that I know. The illustrations show more than the text tells, which can prompt discussions.


What is more conducive to learning than having school feel like a safe place?  What is more important for us to learn than empathy, compassion, and the fact that anyone can make a difference?  This is a treasure of a tale that will be great for the beginning of the school year.  Young students are waiting to see what kind of place school is.  Have this one on hand and share it with students to show them.


Richie Partington, MLIS

Richie's Pickshttp://richiespicks.pbworks.com






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