February 2005

The power of small

By Jerdine Nolen & Kadir Nelson
Review by
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Jerdine Nolan and Kadir Nelson are back together for another charming tall tale in Hewitt Anderson's Great Big Life. Hewitt's parents believe that big things are best! They live in a glorious mansion just the right size for hosting bountiful parties and teas. Not only is their house enormous, but they are quite large themselves; indeed, they are giants.

But Hewitt himself turns out to be a bit smaller than his parents. As a matter of fact, he is tiny. He is so tiny that he can sleep in the well of his father's hand, travel in the brim of his mother's hat, and sneak into the tiniest of cracks. In a family where big things are celebrated, Hewitt is a constant source of concern and worry. How will he survive in the big world? After conferring with Dr. Gargantuan and figuring out that he will always be small, the loving parents send Hewitt off to train him to live in their world. Hilarious lessons in swimming and climbing a beanstalk lead all the grown-up giants to realize that little Hewitt is perfectly able to take care of himself, and his parents. "They now knew what Hewitt knew all along there is power in small if you believe in yourself."

Nelson's dramatic oil paintings add much to this delightful story. From the first pages, when the reader does not yet realize the size of the senior Andersons, Nelson renders every detail for the reader, if she or he will only notice. The house is as tall as the adjacent sequoias, a teeny-weeny bull is munching on the grass in the lawn, almost microscopic geese are pecking at pebbles, and a particularly familiar beanstalk makes the house look like nothing more than a cottage. Mr. Anderson's suspender clips are actually anchors and his belt is made of the ropes that usually hold a cruise ship into its slip.

It's too bad that Stuart Little isn't around for Hewitt to play with! Together their enormous intelligence, stylish clothing and calm demeanor would make them perfect friends.


Lynn Beckwith is a teacher in Nashville.

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Hewitt Anderson’s Great Big Life

Hewitt Anderson’s Great Big Life

By Jerdine Nolen & Kadir Nelson
Simon & Schuster
ISBN 9780689868665

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