The Small Things by Lisa Thompson
|The Small Things by Lisa Thompson|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Ruth Ng|
|Summary: A small, well-designed little story that packs an emotional punch!|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 104||Date: June 2021|
|Publisher: Barrington Stoke|
|External links: Author's website|
Although Anna has friends at school, she feels like she never really fits in. Her family don't have enough money to let her do after school activities, and so she feels like her life at home is boring in comparison to theirs. When a new girl joins her class, Anna is asked to partner her, but things are complicated because the new girl, Ellie, is unwell and so can't attend school in person. Instead, she joins in with the class by using a robot. Can Anna overcome the challenge of making friends with someone through a robot, and is she even interesting enough to be a good friend to Ellie?
As Ellie and Anna begin to build their friendship, Anna finds herself telling a small lie to Ellie. She has no confidence in herself, believing that the other girls in the class who go horse riding or ice skating or doing other fun activities will be much more interesting and attractive to Ellie. So she starts to lie about what she's been doing, in the evening or on the weekend, until the lies grow and become difficult to control. Will Anna find the confidence to trust in her own likes and dislikes, and will she share with Ellie what she really enjoys doing after school and at the weekends?
This is a really lovely story, all about friendship, and although it deals with a rather unusual friendship situation of two girls meeting via a robot, it is also very grounded, and real and recognisable. It reinforces the idea that life is all about the small, simple things, as those often become the foundations of our friendships. The author has a wonderful understanding of children, and of the very human need to fit in. You perfectly understand how Anna is feeling, and why she tells the lies, even whilst feeling incredibly uncomfortable about the situation you know she's putting herself into. There will be lots of children who will identify with Anna's feelings of inadequacy, and loneliness. And both Anna and Ellie's situations encourage discussions on empathy and understanding where others are coming from. Ellie's situation is obviously unusual, but I really liked that as you read the story, you don't feel sorry for her, and that the children just accept her situation and get on with things, working to include her and make her feel welcome.
Lisa Thompson based this story on a real life experience she had of meeting a child in a school who was attending school through a very special robot. It is an incredibly gentle little story, yet I felt it has a lot of emotional depth, and cleverly delivers a beautifully crafted story in a really short little book. Published by Barrington Stoke, it uses their clear, dyslexia-friendly font as well as the off-white page colouring to help with accessibility. The language throughout the story is easy to read, without feeling too simple. So it is both accessible for dyslexic readers, and accessible for those who are perhaps reluctant readers. Although the book is short, it deals with some complex issues in a really wonderful way. This probably hits the Year 4/5 age group really well, though could be read by both younger and older readers too.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Small Things by Lisa Thompson at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Small Things by Lisa Thompson at Amazon.com.
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