Author: Tregonning, Mel
A boy's worries manifest as tiny beings that crowd around him constantly, overwhelming him and even gnawing away at his very self. The striking imagery is all the more powerful when, overcoming his isolation at last, the boy discovers that the tiny demons of worry surround everyone, even those who seem to have it all together. In graphic novel format.
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School Library Journal (+) (00/03/18)
Booklist (+) (04/01/18)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 03/01/2018 Gr 3–6—In this incredibly moving tale, a boy experiences difficulties—feeling left out, performing poorly on tests, etc. Dark thoughts consume his body and turn into monsters. Not knowing what to do, he suffers in silence. Only when his sister reveals her own hidden pain does the boy realize he's not alone. This wordless, picture book—size graphic novel is rendered in beautiful gradients of pencil. It was created by the late Tregonning and completed by Shaun Tan (The Arrival), whose own style is similarly characterized by surrealism. Cute character designs with bobble heads and circular eyes make the work pensive rather than depressing. This is a sympathetic examination of anxiety that never assigns blame; instead, the authors acknowledge the complexity of the situation and that resolutions aren't easy. Readers will learn that, like the nameless protagonist, we can recognize hurt in others, reach out to them, and help one another move forward. VERDICT With direction from educators, guidance counselors, or parents, this poignant title will resonate with those dealing with mental illness. A superb example of bibliotherapy.—Rachel Forbes, Oakville Public Library, Ont. - Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 04/01/2018 *Starred Review* In this wordless picture book–graphic novel mash-up, originally published in Australia, artist Tregonning introduces an unnamed boy grappling with corrosive anxiety. His demons appear on the basketball court, in the classroom, even at home—and they aren’t merely metaphorical. A torrent of jagged black swirls accompanies each of the boy’s alienating encounters and discouraging test scores. And though they start small, the creaturelike curls quickly grow, trailing and surrounding the boy at every turn. Before long, his skin begins to chip away like cracked porcelain. But the boy is not alone; in fact, he soon finds almost everyone has demons of their own. With “artwork direction and assistance” from the renowned Shaun Tan, this posthumous release—following Tregonning’s death in 2014—unfolds in a series of masterful, soft graphite illustrations. Much like the boy’s ever-transforming anxieties, panels shift from slender, compressed squares to sweeping double-page spreads. The otherworldly glow of the black-and-white palette, too, elegantly underscores the boy’s ongoing battle against darkness. More than a moving portrayal of one boy’s struggle, this is also a magnifying lens through which to identify and discuss mental illness with readers of all ages. Don’t let its title or page count fool you, Small Things’ effects are monumental. - Copyright 2018 Booklist.