From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 2–Little Nell, introduced in The Biggest, Best Snowman
(Scholastic, 1998), returns with BIG Mama, BIG Sarah, and BIG Lizzie. It's Halloween, and the three siblings are looking for pumpkins to carve into jack-o'-lanterns. Little Nell's selection is deemed too small and ugly by her sisters. Not to be deterred, Little Nell enlists the help of Reindeer, Hare, and Bear Cub and creates a special jack-o'-lantern that can proudly take its place on the porch. As BIG Mama says, Jack-o'-lanterns come in all shapes and sizes!, a line that can be reassuringly applied to children as well. Reminiscent of Charlie Brown's devotion to his scraggly Christmas tree, Little Nell's story is just as satisfying, stressing the worth of a child's handiwork and the value of creating. The colorful cartoons provide the perfect complement. This is a holiday story that can be used year round; it's an excellent choice for reading aloud, both in a group setting or one-on-one.–Kara Schaff Dean, Needham Public Library, MA
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PreS-Gr. 2. Little Nell, who first appeared in The Biggest, Best Snowman
(1998), is back in another story about an independent, young sibling. Nell is dwarfed by her sisters, BIG Lizzie and BIG Sarah, and by her mother, BIG Mama. At Halloween, Lizzie and Sarah choose huge, smooth pumpkins, while Nell selects the small, lumpy runt of the vine. Her sisters dismiss it as too "bumpy and little and ugly," and Nell withers under the criticism. Then her animal friends appear, and using antlers and beaks as tools, they help her carve a winning face on her pumpkin, earning Mama's praise and delight. Once again, Cuyler and Hillenbrand create a warm, empowering story about a youngest sister's struggles. Cuyler's infectious, repetitive text, with its recurrent use of BIG,
is perfectly paced for participatory read-alouds, and Hillenbrand's cheery, whimsical mixed-media illustrations show Little Nell's perspective, moving from images of giant, looming figures to scenes with a more balanced scale at the story's triumphant end. A reassuring story about individuality, friendship, and finding beauty in the imperfect and unusual. Gillian EngbergCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved