Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Tallest of Smalls

by Max Lucado,
illustrated by Maria Monescillo
Tommy Nelson, 2009

This rhyming picture book by well-loved author, Max Lucado, deals with the subject of self-esteem in children. How can kids know that they are special and significant when their peers may be telling them otherwise?

In the town of Stiltsville, those who are deemed worthy receive the opportunity to wear stilts. A poor, ordinary boy named Ollie, has never been chosen for this honor, though he longs for it with all his heart. At last the day comes when, by some miracle, Ollie's name is called. He is thrilled, until he comes crashing down. Only Jesus is able to make him understand that his true significance is not dependent on the assessment of others, but on what God thinks of him.

While this is a valuable concept for anyone to appreciate, I don't know that this story will convince children. The story seems contrived and the problem too easily resolved. The author also fails to maintain perfect rhyme, which makes it awkward to read in places. The illustrations are cartoonish and colorful, but somehow old-fashioned.

I am left with the same feeling I get from reading some Robert Munsch books: once you've made a name for yourself in the publishing world, anything you write - good or bad - will be put into print.

(This book was supplied by Tommy Nelson as part of their book review blog program:


Stephen Barkley said...

Thank goodness I wasn't the only reviewer that didn't think too much of this one!

Susan said...

I just took a look at some of the other reviews, Stephen, and my eyes just about popped out at the number of reviewers who gave the book four, or even five, stars. I am glad, too, that you're with me on this one. And I'm wondering if some of the other reviewers felt obligated to give the book their stamp of approval because they'd received it for free...

Faith said...

I felt a similar way about the adult book that he based the kids' book off of -- like it was a rehash of old material, sort-of thrown together, slightly contrived, and essentially manipulated the emotions of the reader to get them to agree with what he was saying.

So, I'm not entirely surprised that the children's book didn't live up to expectations. How frustrating that it didn't even rhyme properly too! Sometimes I wonder how these things pass the editors and make it into print... sigh.

BECKY said...

I gave this book 2 stars and am shocked at the 5 star reviews. The wording in this book is poorly constructed. I felt like he must have turned it out in about an hour, everything was so forced and difficult to read. Glad I am not the only one who thought it fell flat. My kids could barely understand it and they are pretty bright.