CM . . .
. Volume XXIII Number 5. . . .October 7, 2016
Alison Hughes. Illustrated by Holly Hatam.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2016.
32 pp., hardcover, pdf & epub, $19.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-0910-9 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-0911-6 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-0912-3 (epub).
Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.
Review by Valerie Nielsen.
Reviewed from F&Gs.
A crumpled soda can lay in the grass,
glinting in the sunshine.
A boy ran down the path.
He saw the can, picked it up and
tossed it into a nearby recycling bin.
It was only a little thing. A small, small thing.
The boy didn't know it mattered at all...
In each of the following pages of What Matters, the larger consequences of the boy's small act are brought to life. Starting with tiny creatures such as an ant, a snail, a spider and a pair of worms and then moving along the chain of being, the author shows readers the importance of connections in our natural world. The ripple effect of something as easy to do as picking up a piece of garbage is shown simply and dramatically in this little picture book.
Alison Hughes is a prolific and versatile writer of children's books. Her works range from picture books for the K to 3 set (Gerbil, Uncurled) through early readers (Beatrice Moves In) middle years readers (Lost in the Back Yard) and includes her 2013 YA novel Poser) which was nominated for two readers' choice awards in Canada.
What Matters, Hughes' second picture book, is brought to life perfectly with Holly Hatam's simple earth coloured drawings set against a green and blue background. Hatam is a gifted illustrator and graphic designer who is known for her quirky and whimsical style, as well as her penchant for creating endearing characters in her work. Her depiction of the little back-pack toting hero of What Matters is proof positive of this ability and will be certain to appeal to readers of any age.
What Matters is a very small book with a very large message. Happily, the author has avoided being heavy-handed. With just 14 double-spread pages and fewer than 20 words on each page, the book should prove accessible to beginning readers in the Kindergarten to Grade 2 range as well as providing excellent opportunities for discussion with young listeners in a read-aloud situation.
Valerie Nielsen is a retired teacher-librarian who lives in Winnipeg, MB.
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