Littles by Tate Thomson is a charming children’s book for very young kids (3-5) about all of the bugs around us. Using just a few words a page, and enormously expressive illustrations, this is a book that is full of energy that kids will want to come back to again and again. It would also work very well as a starting point for new readers.
Each page is a feast with visual puns that mesh perfectly with the text. Thomson shows how the littlest ones around us survive and thrive in a sometimes challenging world (a bug evading a frog or a giant shoe), and also how they create big projects for such small creatures. The final message is that bugs aren’t creepy and scary, but they have amazing lives of their own. Kids will be inspired and look at the insect world a little differently by the book’s end.
Here’s a sample of how Thomson playfully matches her brilliant illustrations and text:
It’s important to point out these interior pages, because the cover doesn’t quite convey the creativity found inside. It seems like exaggeratedly high praise, but these are Eric Carle-caliber illustrations. Perhaps the illustrations are not as original as Carle’s, but they’re just as expressive, and as he’s one of the great illustrators of bugs and animals, this is really saying something.
This quality is a rare feat for a self-published children’s book, in which illustrations are not always the strongest suit, but here the illustrations are as strong as any mainstream book. Additionally, the text is fun and entirely age-appropriate – something also frequently missing from indie children’s books, especially aimed at this age group. Perhaps this is because Thomson is both the author and illustrator that this is a fully realized work, as some of the most timeless works for children are both written and illustrated by the same artist (Dr. Seuss, Maurice Sendak, Carle). The book really deserves attention, as a lot of care has gone into every facet of its production.
The weakest link in the book is the title, which unfortunately also encompasses the whole premise of the book, as nearly every page refers to “Littles.” Given that there is already a hugely popular children’s series called The Littles, the title is the book’s main misstep. Of course, The Littles series, and television show, is for an older middle grade audience, but that series is so iconic that the name just can’t necessarily be repurposed even for younger children.
However, that issue can be overlooked, as the age range suited for this book won’t know about the other series. That said, parents will, which may cause the book to be passed by, which would be a shame, as this is a children’s book of the highest caliber.
What’s in the book is very strong and sure to be enjoyed by both boys and girls. Problems with the title aside, little ones will love reading about all the activity of even littler ones. Littles comes highly recommended.