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When You Were Small Hardcover – January 17, 2006

4.9 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

PreSchool-Grade 3–Each night, Henry asks his dad to tell him about when he was small, and his father relates how very small he really was: …we used to give you baths in the teapot…, and …we took the toy castle out of the aquarium and you were king of it. This is obviously an enjoyable nighttime ritual and it always ends with the child asking, 'Dad, is all that true?' 'Well,' says his dad, 'don't you remember?' The minimal text is accompanied by delicate illustrations. Subtle coloring and ample white space add to the book's tranquil feel. A lovely title to share one-on-one, and sure to start many family rituals.–Wendy Woodfill, Hennepin County Library, Minnetonka, MN
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 1-3. Henry sits in an armchair opposite his dad. He asks for the usual evening ritual: "Tell me about when I was small." And so the father does, in a series of wonderfully unexpected images. When the boy was small, he could walk his pet ant, sleep in his father's left slipper (with a peppermint teabag for a pillow), bathe in a teapot, or ride on the cat's back, as if "[Henry] were an emperor and [the cat] was an elephant." He could fit in his dad's shirt pocket or play the part of a knight on the chessboard. When Henry asks his father if it's all true, Dad replies, "Don't you remember?" Whimsical, crosshatched line illustrations, washed with gently shadowed colors, appear to float on white pages, pairing a single, evocative picture with each fantastical memory. Packaged without a jacket and sporting an elegant cloth spine, this looks different from most picture books on the market--and the story's delightfully sly sensibility bears out initial impressions. GraceAnne DeCandido
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 2 - 5 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Simply Read Books (January 17, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1894965361
  • ISBN-13: 978-1894965361
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.4 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #554,162 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on May 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Pity the small publisher in this age of global conglomerates and massive buyouts. In a time of Harcourts and Harper Collins, and Antheneums it's almost impossible for the little guy (the little guy in this case being Simply Read Books) to make any kind of a lasting impression on the marketplace. Worse than all of this is the snobbery involved in criticizing small publishers. I admit freely that when I picked up, "When You Were Small", I looked at it long and hard with an eye towards finding any faults it might have. Not all small publishers are good, after all, and not all of their books readworthy. Simply Read Books is different, though, and "When You Were Small", is infinitely readworthy. An unassuming title with a charming presence, great use of wry commentary, and some really outstanding pen and ink illustrations. "When You Were Small", reminds all of us that sometimes the smallest publishers are the ones who find the best new talent around.

Every night, we are told, Henry and his dad sit down, "and have a chat". Henry asks his dad to tell him what he was like when he was small and dad does so. The only thing is, dad seems to be a bit of a literal sort. The first thing he tells Henry is, "When you were small you used to have a pet ant and you would take him out for walks on a leash". And here we see Henry, no younger than before, but tiny enough to walk an ant as if it were a particularly frisky dog. With each page we learn more about what "little" Henry's life was like. Sometimes it's straightforward, as when we're told, "When you were small we took the toy castle out of the aquarium and you were king of it". Other times the book acquires a dry wit, saying things like, "... your mother once lost you in the bottom of her purse.
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Format: Hardcover
This unassuming little book has such clever writing and imaginative scenes that it's close to perfect. A simple two-joke setup propels the ever-spiraling absurd humor: First, that a "small" child would be really, REALLY tiny, and, second, the pun resulting from the confusion of small and young."

Every night young Henry asks a common kid question: "Dad...tell me about when I was small." Nearby adults generally smile at this question, because they quite reasonably interpret"small" as "young," and the child questioner is still pretty young (and small). IT becomes one of those awww-laden moments when the adults sneak little isn't-he-cute winks and glances at each other.

There will be none of this sentimentality for author Sara O'Leary though. She launches into her mildly absurd humor through the father, who regales his audience (and yours) with reverse-Paul Bunyan tales of Henry, when he was, indeed, very, very small:

"When you were small we used you as a chess piece, because our chess board was missing one of the knoghts and you were the perfect size."

Not THAT's small, so small that the expected story about Henry as a much younger child is quickly dashed. Befitting the intimate story and Henry's diminutive size, the pictures are simple and soft (with cross-hatched lines for texture), illustrating the text with a few small objects and one small Henry. For example, against a shadowed tablecloth covered with a small rubber duckie, tiny bath towel and shirt, we see Henry about to jump into a striped green teapot twice his size!

"When you were small we used to give you baths in the teapot, and when you were done we could just tip you over and pour you out.
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Format: Hardcover
Everything about this book, I love. The words, the message, the illustrations, the gorgeous cover, everything. This book is endearingly quirky and charming. I fell in love with it. I can only hope they write one with a little girl as the main character!
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Format: Hardcover
What a lovely book. The drawings are exquisite and the prose is so tender. Both my kids and I liked this book a lot.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
We love both of Sarah O'Leary's books; the illustrations are lovely too. A wonderful baby shower gift!
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