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The Picture Book Buzz

One Small Thing - The Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

First order of business - CONGRATULATIONS to:


Danielle Hammelef

you've won a copy of My Love for You.


Now, this week's #PPBF choice. This book's gentle text and huggable illustrations create a modern classic feel which reminds me a bit of the 100-acre woods.

A rabbit, badger, beaver, squirrel, and mouse hugging a racoon.

One Small Thing


Author: Marsha Diane Arnold


Illustrator: Laura Watkins


Publisher: Beaming Books (2023)


Ages: 5-8


Fiction


Themes:

Kindness, friendship, community, and small acts.


Synopsis:

After Raccoon's home burns down in a lightning storm, his friends don't know what they can do to help. Squirrel, Beaver, Mouse, Badger, and Rabbit all go back to their own homes, trying to focus on something other than Raccoon's tragedy. But each animal discovers one small thing they can do for Raccoon--and it turns out that each small act may not be so small after all.


A gentle and powerful look at how small actions can make a big impact.


Opening Lines:

All the animals in Brightly Wood were

talking about what happened.


“Lightning struck Raccoon’s house last night!”

exclaimed Squirrel. “Only ashes are left.”


“Something is always going wrong in Brightly Wood,”

grumbled Badger.


“He loved his home by the river,” whispered Beaver.

“Where will Raccoon live now?”


“Thank goodness he’ll be okay,” said Mouse.

“But his feet were burned a bit.”


“Thank goodness his cricket jumped away,” added Rabbit.

“But no one can find him now.”


“Silly cricket,” muttered Badger.


What I LOVED about this book:

Perhaps it's the cozy, timeless feel of the illustrations or the expressive personalities of the animals, but I kept being reminded of the 100-acre woods (badger remind anyone else of Eeyore?). While the darling, detailed images of each animal's unique home and their favorite activity remind me of Katy Hudson's four animal friends (in Too Many Carrots, ...).


When lightning destroyed Raccoon's house, his concerned friends gathered. With Rabbit, Mouse, and Squirrel expressing their feelings of helplessness - "someone else will come to help," it's such a big problem and they're "so small," and it's "so sad to think about." All feelings that kids (and adults) might have when they hear of disasters or other's troubles. I love how Marsha Diane Arnold also weaves into this moment two wonderful refrains; Beaver's - "Where will Raccoon live now?" and Badger's "Where could that silly cricket be?"

Squirrel leans on tree and Badger, Beaver, Mouse and Squirrel gather around.

Text © Marsha Diane Arnold, 2023. Image © Laura Watkins, 2023.


When the others go back to their homes, Badger heads to the darkest, gloomy part of Brightly Wood.

Rabbit on a bridge (top left). Mouse walked to top of a hill (top right). Squirrel standing in middle by a tree. Beaver walking to stream (bottom left) and Badger headed toward a dark wood (bottom right).

Text © Marsha Diane Arnold, 2023. Image © Laura Watkins, 2023.


While Rabbit, Mouse, and Squirrel set about doing ordinary tasks to make themselves feel better, Beaver, staring at her lodge (still pondering "Where will Raccoon live now?"), decides to build Raccoon a new home. And in stark contrast to the rest of the colorful, bright, sunny illustrations, Badger wonders into a gloomy, thorny, ominous part of the woods, looking for cricket. Although nothing scary or sad happens, this one spread creates a strong moment of visual tension.

Badger standing in thorny, dark, woods with a bunch of crows and glowing eyes watching him.

Text © Marsha Diane Arnold, 2023. Image © Laura Watkins, 2023.


Which is immediately changed, as we visit the light, cheery homes of Rabbit, Mouse, and Squirrel while they each realize that they have something to offer to help or cheer up Raccoon; they each can "do one small thing." Creating yet another refrain (and theme) which is subtly tweaked at the end. As the sun begins to set and a golden, peachy glow bathes the woods . . . [spoilers]. The ending is a touching affirmation of friendship and a single person's ability to make a difference; when every small thing is added together. It's a gorgeous, gentle book encouraging empathy and kindness.


Resources:

Top left - raccoon paper bag puppets. Center - Badger paper bag puppet. Right - Beaver paper bag puppet. Bottom left - Rabbit and squirel paper bag puppets. Right - Mouse paper bag puppets.

- make paper bag puppets (raccoon, rabbit & squirrel, mouse, beaver, & badger) and act out this story or create other stories for the animals. How would they react now if someone else's house were damaged?


- what type of house would you build for Raccoon? Why? Draw a picture of your design or write a description and list of supplies.


- can you think of one small thing you could do for a friend or family member? How about in your community? With a parent or teacher, check with an aid organization (ideas). What do they need? Could you and/or your class write notes to kids experiencing a disaster, start a collection drive, or make blankets or toys for affected pets?


- check out the activity guide for One Small Thing.


- pair this with Big Bear Was Not the Same by Joanna Rowland, illustrated by John Ledda and A Flood of Kindness by Ellen Leventhal, illustrated by Blythe Russo.


If you missed the interview with Marsha Diane Arnold on Monday, find it (here).


This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions and resources see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

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Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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