The New Small Person ISBN: 9780723293613
Published by 2014
To say that Lauren Child thinks like a child, might not be considered a compliment, but I think it is, and this picture book is a perfect example of her art. The 'new small person' is a new baby who has come to interrupt Elmore Green's happy existence. Being an only child, he has had everything he wanted, and his parents believe him to be the most perfect child ever. But when the 'new small person' arrives on the scene, everything changes, and his parents and their friends seem to find the new one even more interesting than Elmore. As the baby grows, it becomes even more irritating, and Elmore's desire to send it back where it came from is met with parental resistance. Of course, the baby and then toddler thinks Elmore is the bees knees and wants to do everything he does and go everywhere he goes. The move of the 'new person's' bed into Elmore's room seems to be the last straw, but then something strange happens. When Elmore has a bad dream, it is the 'new person' who comforts him; they even begin to enjoy the same funny TV programmes; and ultimately, it is the 'small person' who understands that making a long line of things snaking down the stairs and to the front door is terribly important. When Elmore begins to share his jelly beans (except the orange ones) and calls the 'small person' Albert by name for the first time, we know the battle is won. The illustrations are wonderful, very much from Elmore's perspective with adults only seen from the bottom half of their bodies, and the integrated text winds its sinuous way all through. The real importance of this story lies in the fact that it recognises that new relationships can take a long time in developing and that expecting a child to immediately take to a younger sibling is unrealistic. A lesson for parents as well as children perhaps?