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When I Was Small Hardcover – Dec 12 2011

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Simply Read Books (Dec 12 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1897476388
  • ISBN-13: 978-1897476383
  • Product Dimensions: 18.6 x 0.8 x 25.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 318 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #93,206 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


The Toronto Star:
There are lots of picture books on the theme of "what it was like when you were small, but in this case the mother jumps us into a world of delightful exaggeration. "When I was small," she tells little Henry, "my doll and I wore the same size shoes... I went swimming in the birdbath... I slept in a mitten..." Morstad's fine, delicate drawings enhance this Thumbelina-like fantasy, which plays with the relationship between youth and stature. Morstad's tiny girl with big eyes and bobbed hair evokes a young miss of the 1920s - very stylish.
Quill and Quire Review:
Ever curious Henry, whose enquiries about the recent past formed the basis of Sara O’Leary and Julie Morstad’s previous collaborations, When You Were Small and Where You Came From, has another question for his mother, this time asking her for a story about when she was small. Henry’s mother answers with a series of very short, beautifully bizarre anecdotes delivered at the pace of one per page.
The book takes the idea of Henry’s mother being “small” literally – she is pictured skipping rope with a ball of yarn, swimming in a birdbath, and standing on a spool of thread. The dreamy quality of both text and image gives the book a slightly low-energy feel, but it may be the perfect thing for a kid who is just a little quiet, a little shy, but still inquisitive – a child not unlike Henry. The result is a perfect antidote for parents whose retinas have been scorched by too much Dora the Explorer. Small visual details, such as the frequent hand-lettering and the spot illustrations, add to the book’s quiet impact. The framing of the narrative, with Henry’s question at the beginning and his mother’s comments at the end, gives kids something concrete to hang onto throughout.
 When I Was Small is not only a charming picture book, but by focusing on the parent’s past instead of the child’s, it also has the potential to be a great conversation starter.
Calgary Herald: 
Children, (at least my children, ages five and eight), will take great delight in thischarming little book. The simple, 1950s-style illustrations add to the quirky story that a mother tells her child about when she was, literally, "small." It's fun to see the scenarios she paints about a little girl who wore a daisy for a sun hat, feasted on a single raspberry, lived in a dollhouse and had a ladybug for a best friend.

Montreal Gazette, When I Was Small, by Montreal’s Sara O’Leary (Simply Read Books, 32 pages, $18.95), has nothing to do with letters or books – unless you count the opening page, in which Henry is looking through a photo album, wishing he’d known his parents when they were small. “Tell me a story, he begs his mother. Tell me a story about when you were small, too.” And she does. “When I was small ... my name was Dorothea,” she says. “But because the name was too big for me, everyone called me Dot.” And so it starts, a story that grows progressively more whimsical – and owes a lot of its warmth and whimsy to the wonderful, quirky, scratchy pen-and-ink art of Vancouver’s Julie Morstad. The image accompanying that opening statement by Henry’s mom, for example, shows a class photo that includes a teeny, tiny girl dressed in red. Dot. “When I was small,” she tells Henry as she tucks him into bed for the night, “I couldn’t wait to grow up. Because I knew one day I would have a small boy of my own.” A beautiful book, and perfect companion to Where You Came From (2008) and When You Were Small (2006) by the same author/illustrator team. For ages 3 to 8.

About the Author

Sara O'Leary is a playwright, fiction writer, and literary journalist. She teaches Writing for Children and Screenwriting at Concordia University in Montreal.

Julie Morstad is an award-winning illustrator and fine artist known for her surreal, whimsical work. Illustrator of numerous children’s books, including Singing Away the Dark and When You Were Small and its two sequels Where You Came From and When I Was Small, Julie has exhibited her work in galleries, animated two music videos with her brother, filled up stacks of sketchbooks, and made countless pots of soup and many loaves of bread. She lives in Vancouver with her family.

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Most helpful customer reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By LauraS on Jan. 15 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the sweetest series of children's books!!, the art is charming and the stories are lovely. We bought them as a baby gift to start the early story time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Deb on Sept. 10 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Perfect! Thanks!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 10 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Get the whole 3 book series May 27 2013
By Mama3 - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I wish the 3 book series were offered as a boxed set. Simply beautiful books! Illustrations are worth hanging in baby's room if they were available as prints. My kids never get tired of reading these books. They not only love the idea of being so tiny that they could sleep in a slipper, but they will make me stop on each page while they study the pictures and marvel about the pet lady bug on a leash. I hope they remember being small and wishing they could walk that pet lady bug themselves.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
My 3 Year Old Son Loves The Henry Books Feb. 5 2013
By Rose M. Tomek - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Our whole family loves the other two books in this collection, so we were very happy to see that this fit in perfectly with them. The illustrations are wonderful and the narration is sweet. My 3 year old son had plenty of questions to ask when looking at the photos and hearing us read aloud to him. I'm hoping that the author and illustrator will team up again to give us more books in the future.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
sweet story and beautiful illustrations Sept. 29 2013
By Sara L Adams - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My 4 year old daughter absolutely loves this book about a mother telling her son a bedtime story. It's very imaginative and we enjoy adding our own "what ifs" about When I Was Small. The illustrations a beyond beautiful and worthy of a frame.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Love these books March 11 2013
By S. Bakkila - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
All three are wonderful, and they are a favorite to read still even though the prose isn't difficult. They are so wonderful because your imaginations soar with the accompanying illustrations. And what parent doesn't tell a little tall tale? LOVE, love, love!
Boys like it too! Oct. 15 2015
By Cynthia H. - Published on
Format: Hardcover
My 4 year old son picked this out at the library. When I got home and looked at it, I was pretty sure that he would not like it - it wan't the usual dinosaurs and truck books - plus the cover was PINK! After reading it, however, he hugged me and told me that he LOVED the book. That's a reaction I have never gotten form him! Very cute story and delightful illustrations.