Review Blog

Sep 11 2013

Ten tiny things by Meg McKinlay

cover image

Ill. by Kyle Highes-Odgers. Fremantle Press, 2013. ISBN 9781921888946.
(Age: 3+) Recommended. Picture book. Walking. Environment. When the machine breaks down the children must walk to school. Grumbling, they miss their machine which is warm when they want warmth, cool when they want it to be cooler, and gives them a smooth, swift ride there and back again. But on walking to school, they notice things: they see a bright shiny object which Zachary admits he has seen from the machine, but only as a blur. Further on they see shells and birds and trees, and when at school, they realise that they have seen ten tiny things which they would not have seen when in the machine and they have had the sun on their backs to keep warm. When mum comes to school at the end of the day with the newly fixed machine, the two prefer to walk home to see the secret things, the hidden things, which they cannot see in the faster machine.
The illustrations with their few colours and abstract forms draw the eyes to look more closely, seeing what the illustrator includes in his sparse pictures. The spindly legs and arms of the children contrast with their body shapes, and their clothing with its rich array of patterns contrasts again with the triangular representation of trees and buildings. Using wood panels on which to paint with acrylic and wood stain, the impression is given of American indigenous art, while the overall theme of walking not driving is given a broad push in the whole book. It is not surprising to read on the end paper, that both the author and illustrator are proponents of walking, and disdain the use of machinery where possible, although I'm sure a coffee machine is well used while pondering a new book.
This book is intriguing and will beguile young eyes to look more closely at its ideas are presented. This book will serve the teacher well in introducing environmental issues such as the use of machinery and its impact upon the environment in which we live.
Fran Knight

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