The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade

10 Oct

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The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade written by Justin Roberts and illustrated by Christian Robinson (2014)

Sally McCabe was the smallest girl in the smallest grade. And no body noticed her, but she noticed everything. Sally McCabe was paying ‘super extra special attention’ to everything around her. She noticed the kite stuck in the tree, she noticed that the janitor had 27 keys on his keyring, and she noticed all the bullying going on in her school. She noticed when Tommy Torino was tripped in the hall and when Kevin McKuen got pushed off the slide. She noticed when Billy was dragged away by his much larger father. She noticed all the stares and whispers behind people’s backs. Then one day, Sally McCabe had enough. She raised her hand in the lunchroom and announced, “I’m tired of seeing this terrible stuff. Stop hurting each other! This is enough!” And surprisingly, one after another, other hands went up in the air. Students, teachers, and even the principal all raised their hands with their fingers in the air. Everyone felt that moment, and soon people began taking care of each other and being polite to one another.

Justin Roberts, of children’s music fame and the Not Ready 4 Naptime Players, has captured the essence of bullying that is many times considered too small to matter and often goes unnoticed. He gives voice to the smallest, who are often the ones who do notice but are afraid to stand up.

Christian Robinson, illustrator of Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio, Josephine by Patricia Hruby Powell, Rain by Linda Ashman, and Harlem’s Little Blackbird by Renee Watson, brings the simplicity of this message through simple drawings. The faces look like they have been drawn by the children themselves (in a good way) with circular heads, dot eyes, round noses and single lined smiles. The pictures look like crayon drawings, leaving the reader ample room to focus on the message. Every detail is clear and unmistakeable.

I love the last line of the book best, “And how the world could transform and a change could be made by the smallest girl in the smallest grade.” Hooray for Justin Roberts and Christian Robinson!

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2 Responses to “The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade”

  1. writersideup October 10, 2014 at 4:16 PM #

    This sounds like an effective way to approach the problem and sounds like it should be read aloud to young kids in school. Oh, how nice it would be if it could be that easy in reality—just to speak up : /

    Like

    • Juliana Lee October 10, 2014 at 8:30 PM #

      I agree, a definite read-aloud. I think the bigger message is that even the smallest person can make a difference, and that if you notice even the smallest act of bullying it’s okay to stand up and say something. I hope that lots of little readers feel empowered to say or do something to stop bullying.

      Like

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