today’s children storybook summary is
The Big Little Book of Happy Sadness
By Colin Thompson
Storyline: There’s not much happening in George’s life. His days are the same: school and back home, at his grandmother’s, a sad place and an empty one for the boy. We don’t know what happened to his parents but they are absent from his life hence the emptiness he feels. His grandma is a kind lady but they are not too close and George feels they are on different planets.
The monotony of George’s sad life is broken only on Fridays after school, when he visits the dog shelter. There, he usually visits the last cage hosting the dogs nobody wanted , scheduled to go to heaven the next day. Most of the time the cage is empty, sometimes a dog would hide in a corner, waiting for his last dream.
This Friday though, when George visited the shelter, there was a dog in the last cage that sat at the front, by the bars, sad and dignified. They were staring at each other, understanding each other. George wanted that dog. He stopped by the front desk but the clerk told him that he cannot take the dog home without a parent consent. And they were closing in one hour.
The news did not discourage the boy. He took his chance. He run like the wind and took his grandma (who, after looking in the boy’s eye and seeing the emptiness, agreed to get a dog) and they both made it on time to the shelter to rescue the dog, Jeremy.
Back home, George was happy. Now, he had someone to share his days and do things together. Most of the things. Except for waking. Because Jeremy had only three legs. He was missing a hind one. But the dog was happy too. He learned the words “cuddle”, “cushion” and “dinner”.
One day, George and his grandma made Jeremy a leg out of newspapers, and flower and water paste. Ah, what a joy for the dog. He could not only walk but also run. But the leg got wet and soon broke. Then they started baking him new legs but Jeremy kept eating them. At last, George carved him a wooden one, like pirates’ legs. Then he made one with a wheel on the bottom for soccer and another one with a red slipper for bedtime. No long, I guess, George mastered the art of carving wooden dog legs. And so, they lived happily ever after.
Characters: George, a school a sad and lonely boy; George’s grandma, a nice lady; Jeremy, a three legs dog; and the clerk at the shelter, a woman not so nice.
Illustration: Colin Thompson is also the illustrator of this book. His style is characterized big and bold figures. Often his characters have round shapes, round bodies, eyes, noses, or round pieces of clothing and/or accessories. Grandma’s face is all cracked, like old and very used pottery, like the ceramic baking pot she’s baking the chicken on. His page is simple yet complicated. Simple by drawing only what’s necessary to tell a good story but complicated by abundantly detailing that work. Some of the scenes he creates are very touchy. Lovely.
Recommended Age: 5-8 years old
Reading Time: 7 minutes
Medal/Awards: The Big Little Book of Happy Sadness won the Family Therapists Picture Book of the Year 2009 and Honor Book in the CBCA 2009 awards.
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