Small in the City

by Sydney Smith

A child in a large city describes the chaos of people and cars and big buildings,... read more

A child in a large city describes the chaos of people and cars and big buildings, the overwhelming sense of busyness and sounds, before offering advice on being “small in the city” to an unseen “you.” The child points out an alley too dark to go down, the yard with big dogs best to avoid, and good places to hide, find warmth, a meal, and a friend. In the park, the child puts up a “Lost” poster that confirms the identity of “you” as a cat. The counterpoint between the child’s helpful, positive advice and their obvious worry—underscored on reaching home where their mom waits with a comforting hug—is deeply tender, while the rising snowstorm, which begins as a few flakes but is almost a whiteout on the penultimate page, adds even greater tension. The ink, watercolor, and gouache illustrations featuring a white child masterfully convey the physicality of the city, the unique, muffled gray-green palette of rising dusk as a snowstorm swells, and the emotional landscape of a story in which the snow offers clues to a happy ending: paw prints outside their door. Highly Commended, 2020 Charlotte Zolotow Award (Ages 4–8)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2020

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