CM . . .
. Volume XXII Number 22. . . .February 12, 2016
This picture book’s central character, Little Grain, is a grain of sand that is “living” on a beach in Napili Bay on Maui, one of the Hawaiian Islands. Because of the tides and the waves, sometimes Little Grain is beneath the ocean’s waters, and other times he soaking up the sun on the shore. Although Little Grain appreciates the beauty that surrounds him, he is, nevertheless, bored by the repetitive nature of his life. Seeking adventure and excitement, he asks Little Bird, a blue and yellow macaw, to take him with her the next time she flies. Little Bird does so, “holding Little Grain carefully in her beak.” Each time Little Girl flies over something new to Little Grain, he describes it as “the most beautiful thing he had ever seen” and then asks Little Bird to “Show me more!” When Little Bird runs out of things for Little Grain to see on the Hawaiian Islands, she admits that she has never flown beyond the islands, but she has “seen big ships sailing into the distance.”
Still seeking adventure and excitement, Little Grain asks Little Bird to drop him off on a ship because he “want[s] to explore the whole, wide world.” Dropped on the deck of a cruise ship, Little Grain observes the sights around him as the vessel first sails north eastward and then northward Again, whatever new things Little Grain encounters, he describes them as “the most beautiful thing[s] he had ever seen.” As the vessel reaches the Gulf of Alaska, an icy wind gust blows Little Grain onto an iceberg where a now homesick Little Grain audibly wonders how he will ever get back to his beach. The response to his question comes in the form of a baby humpback whale who hears Little Grain’s question and carries him in his mouth over the 3.000 mile journey to Napili Bay. After all of his adventures, Little Grain “knew this was where he belonged – in the most beautiful place he had ever seen.”
In terms of design, Price’s text appears on one page while the facing page is taken up by one of Anderson’s full-page, full-colour illustrations. Each illustration includes a speech bubble containing a single world. A note on the copyright page informs readers that Evan Anderson, now a junior high student in a Calgary fine arts school, was just in grades five and six when he completed the illustrations for Little Grain’s BIG Adventure. Considering his age. Anderson’s artwork is quite sophisticated. A closing illustration, a map, outlines Little Grain’s journey. Anderson needed to do a bit of fact-checking regarding his choice of bird to represent Little Bird as my research indicated that blue and yellow macaws are not native to the Hawaiian Islands.
A weakness of the book is Jacqueline Price’s decision to use a grain of sand as her main character. Essentially, he is invisible throughout the story, and that “invisibility” could pose a challenge for the younger end of the book’s intended audience who may have trouble identifying with something they can’t see. Lacking arms and legs, Little Grain remains a passive observer throughout his “BIG” adventure. Little Grain’s size also poses a problem for illustrator Anderson as sometime the identity of the “voice” behind the word in the speech bubble is unclear.
This collaboration between a Calgary elementary teacher-librarian and a grade school student is an acceptable read but not necessarily an essential purchase.
Dave Jenkinson, CM’s editor, lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal
use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any
other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.