CM . . .
. Volume XX Number 25. . . .February 28, 2014
As I was reading Itty Bitty Bits, a song came on my MP3 player, left there from the holidays. “Put one foot in front of the other,” from the Claymation cartoon Santa Claus is Coming to Town. The timing was perfect. It encapsulated exactly what Itty Bitty Bits is all about: a cumulative pattern story with the moral that any overwhelming job can be accomplished if you just take it one step at a time.
Molly just wants her friend Yen to sleepover. Her mother won’t allow it until Molly cleans her room. “IT’S IMPOSSIBLE! I can’t do it by myself,” she says. Like any normal kid, Molly puts off starting the chore and instead seeks help from each of her family members. Unfortunately, they are also too busy and frustrated with their own massive tasks to help her. Just as she is about to give up, she notices an ant carrying a large crumb from a sandwich that would otherwise be too big for it to carry. As the ant moves the sandwich piece by piece, it dawns on her: “A small bit of something is better than a giant chunk of nothing.”
The illustrations by Wendy Bailey were rendered in Photoshop and have a glossy vectorized look to them. Bright colours and textures provide plenty of detail to keep readers engaged. Molly’s movement and excitement is depicted by multiple versions of her drawn on the same page, doing various chores, making the reader feel almost as euphoric as she does, as she giddily cleans her room and settles down for a sleepover with Yen.
Despite its picture book format, this is a story which will resonate with middle grade school kids as well as the younger ones, giving it a broad age range. The rhyming chant will appeal to younger grades, as will the predictable pattern of question and rejection before she meets the ant. Many adults will smile and nod knowingly at the reminder to break complex tasks into smaller, more manageable parts.
Barb Janicek is a Children’s Librarian with Kitchener Public Library, in Kitchener, ON.
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