It’s trite but true: one of the joys of parenting is rediscovering your own childhood pleasures. So it was one day when I was perusing a rack of sale books at the library and came across The Littles and the Big Storm by John Peterson. I clutched it to me, and was immediately transported to the wire display racks at my elementary school library where I searched out these books. It even brought to me warm memories of Mr. Sullivan, the librarian.
The Littles is a series of chapter books that feature a family of miniature people who live in the walls of The Biggs, who are normal-sized people. The Littles are just like people, except that they sport tails and that their tallest member is just six inches tall. They live in harmony with and often to the benefit of the Biggs, even though the Biggs don’t realize it. With children Tom and Lucy leading the adventures, the Littles use their ingenuity to survive, with regular appearances of contraptions such as a soup can elevator and rafts made from the Lincoln Log toys belonging to the Biggs’ son.
I loved these books as a child for some of the same reasons I like them as an adult: they are exciting, it’s interesting to envision life from the miniature perspective, the Littles children are clever and brave, and they’re just plain good fun.
I know there are other chapter books that would fit this bill, but I particularly like The Littles at this stage of life because they’re accessible reading for sensitive children. I have a child who has the attention span and imagination that could lead him through the many chapter book plots, but he’s sometimes frightened or upset enough by what he’s hearing that he doesn’t want to continue. The Littles is nice for kids like him because they can experience the trials of the Littles without feeling too vulnerable. They can engage a breathless encounter with the Littles’ mortal enemy, a mouse – complete with toothpick spears and sewing needle swords – without feeling in over their heads since they can always pull back and identify with a Bigg.
But I’d love to expand my horizons. If you know of other early chapter books that are friendly to the sensitive reader, or just have favourites that I can bookmark for later, I’d be grateful to know of them.