Sylvia Long's Big Book for Small Children by Sylvia Long, 104 pp, ALL AGES

In the explosion of children's books that has happened in the last 20 years or so, and by that I mean the quantity of kid's books being published and not necessarily the quality, I fear that books like Sylvia Long's Big Book for Small Children have gotten lost on the shelves. Sylvia Long's Big Book for Small Children is the kind of book I grew up with and the kind of book I couldn't live without when my kids were little: a collection of nursery rhymes, fairy tales, and important things to know. Long is the illustrator of a collection of Mother Goose's nursery rhymes, lullabies, and, as she says in her note from the artist, she never thought she would imagine a "big" book again - until she became a grandmother. And, an added benefit of this "big" book being published now, Long notes that she has been mindful of stereotypes with this book, making the three pigs all girls, among other things. Finally, she writes (and reminds us why books lik this are so important),

My hope is that children will linger over both the words and pictures as they sit in the lap of a loving reader - and that through the warmth of that experience, they will form emotional connections and a love of books that will last a lifetime. And, as in all my books, I hope my paintings convey a love for family and nature, as those have been the cornerstones of my life.

Reading this, I am reminded of one of the most important aspects of a "big" book like this - the illustrations. If you, and more importantly, the child this book is being read to, do not love the illustrations, that emotional connection Long writes of is less likely to happen. I have long admired Long's illustrations - the gentle watercolors, kindly animals and attention to detail, especially in the natural world - making her book perfect for me and my family. Hopefully you and yours will connect with her work as well.

Inside Sylvia Long's Big Book for Small Children you will find nursery rhymes, poems and a few fairy tales (The Little Red Hen and Goldilocks and the Three Bears) as well as the kind of cataloging of a child's world that children love to see on the page, like in the "My Outdoor Clothes" pages while the "Going Places" pages present a fine collection of the many types of transportation. Another thing that Long does, which I absolutely love, are the "I Can" pages where she marks the accomplishments of toddlerhood, from getting dressed to saying "Hello," sharing, and planting a seed, among others. She also has a few, "Sometimes I Feel," pages that introduce children to the names for emotions. Pages also illustrate the alphabet, colors and shapes in lovely creative ways. There is even a two page spread that shows a child and parent on a bench, observing paintings and statues, titled, "At the Art Museum," with the subtitle, "I can look . . . but not touch." Long also includes recipes for pancakes (along with a pancake poem) and porridge (along with the story of Goldilocks) and closes out her book with the, "Star light, star bright," poem.

Source: Review Copy

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