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Marta! Big and Small

martaThe most important lesson I’ve learned from reading picture books is that little books can hold big ideas. This book, which introduces us to an adorable, “ordinary” girl named Marta, isn’t just a cute bilingual book about opposites. Each double-page spread features Marta and an animal on a clean white background, with few surrounding details. A subtle border —usually light yellow or gray — surrounds the figures Dominguez wants to foreground, separating Marta and the animals from the white space. It works because the focus is on comparing Marta’s characteristics to the different animals, not on who she is in relation to her setting. Anything else would be a distraction (although the briefly sketched-in jungle setting does play a crucial role in the drama). You should be warned that there is an animal who sneaks up on Marta, and there’s a little surprise that might distract and delight young readers for a little while. I love the message that your identity isn’t defined by a single characteristic — big or small, fast or slow — but by many things, even contradictory things. How others see you is all a matter of perspective. It’s a subtle but important lesson that is best learned early. In the end, I am convinced that Marta is, in fact, quite extraordinary (as well as very clever!).

About Yoomi An Larmee

Avid reader Yoomi An Larmee provides tech support to teachers in Evanston School District 65 in Illinois.



  1. Sam Juliano says:

    So wonderful to see this marvelous book in the Calling Caldecott equation. I’m a fan too and much appreciate this fabulous delineation of the book’s theme and artistry.

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