Littlelight by Kelly Canby

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Fremantle Press, 2020. ISBN: 9781925815764.
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. When the Mayor of a walled city notices that some bricks are missing, he is very cross, thinking that a thief has stolen the bricks. The wall keeps other people out, and protects his city from things that are different. He calls the attention of his fellow citizens to the theft, and they are equally angry that this should happen. They are all concerned that something different should get into their city and help him to find the thief. They look at all corners of the town. The walls to the south protect them from people who look a little different and grow unusual food, those to the north grow unusual food, act a little differently and speak different words. To the east the people grow unusual food, speak  different words, look a little different and have upbeat music, while to the west, they are different in all the ways that the others are different, but on top of all that difference, they read unfamiliar books. The Mayor cannot be more furious. He and the people double their efforts at finding the culprit and eventually find that it is a young girl. Just as the Mayor is about to admonish her, the populace realise that the smell of new food, the sound of new words, the beat of new music and the promise of new stories was not something to be feared. And they realised the the little girl had not taken anything from them, but had given them a gift, a gift of seeing something different. Through the gaps in the wall they could see how others lived, they had windows and now doors and then bridges.
A modern fable, readers be entranced by the backward looking mayor, and the possibilities that have opened up for the populace of his city.
They will readily see the parallels to walls being built and those torn down, those that have stood for centuries and those that have lasted less than a few decades. They will recognise that his book is about welcoming difference: difference in how we look, what we eat, how we sing and what we read. The book will open up a range of discussions, opinions and thoughts. All augmented by the wonderful illustrations, the few colours peeping through redolent of the possibilities offered by difference. The greys give way to more colour as the book proceeds, the people realising the richness that light brings.
Themes: Colour, Difference, Multiculturalism, Tyranny, Walls.
Fran Knight