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list price: $19.95
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published: Sep 2019
publisher: Groundwood Books Ltd

Small in the City

by Sydney Smith

tagged: city & town life, pets, friendship
0 of 5
0 ratings
list price: $19.95
also available: eBook
published: Sep 2019
publisher: Groundwood Books Ltd

The first picture book that the award-winning Sydney Smith has both written and illustrated is a story about feeling small in the city — and finding your way home.

On a snowy day in a big city, a little boy hops off a streetcar and walks through downtown, between office buildings, through parks and down busy streets. Along the way, he provides helpful tips about which alleys make good shortcuts, which trees to climb and where to find a friendly face. All the while, the boy searches for what he has lost …

The first book that award-winning illustrator Sydney Smith has written tells a story of what it means to get lost in the city, travel the wrong path and get caught in bad weather — and to ultimately find your way back home. His beautiful watercolour illustrations alternate between full spreads and small panels, evoking the sometimes overwhelming cacophony of urban sights and sounds, as well as the quiet moments that make all of us feel less small in the city.

Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:

Identify words and phrases in stories or poems that suggest feelings or appeal to the senses.

Explain how specific aspects of a text's illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story (e.g., create mood, emphasize aspects of a character or setting)


Recommended Age and Grade
4 to 7
k to 2
  • Short-listed, CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal
  • Winner, Sheila Barry Best Canadian Picture Book of the Year
  • Winner, Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award
  • Winner, Atlantic Book Award — Lillian Shepherd Award for Excellence in Illustration
  • , Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award
  • Winner, Ezra Jack Keats Award
  • Winner, Governor General's Literary Award, Young People's Literature - Illustrated Books
  • Commended, Horn Book's Fanfare List
  • Commended, NPR's Best Books
  • Commended, Globe 100 List
  • Commended, New York Times 25 Best Children's Books of 2019
  • Commended, Kirkus Best Picture Books
  • Commended, School Library Journal Best Picture Books
Editorial Reviews

Smith's understated portrait of longing for the return of a beloved family member takes readers on a quiet but powerful emotional journey … The story's spotlight is not on the loss of the pet, or on its return, but on the state of suspension in between — a mixture of grief, resignation, and patient waiting — and the independent child narrator’s loving regard for the animal as an autonomous being. STARRED REVIEW


— Publishers Weekly

The use of line, reflection, and perspective masterfully evoke a bustling gray city, making this thoughtful book an artful choice. STARRED REVIEW


— School Library Journal

The ink, watercolor, gouache pictures have a unique, sometimes startling look as they divide into strips or fill the pages. They capture both the city's pace and its stark beauty, even on a raw winter's day. Smith's art has been award winning, but here he becomes author as well as illustrator. He does both titles proud in this stirring piece. STARRED REVIEW


— Booklist

Young readers will feel their hearts constrict, as they all know what it's like to confront a towering, intimidating world… . Extraordinary, emotional, and beautifully rendered. STARRED REVIEW


— Kirkus Reviews

[T]he images do most of the talking. They range from modest vignettes of city life — a portion of wire fencing, a swatch of building — to showstoppers including a fractured illustration of the downcast boy's funhouse-like reflection in a mirrored-glass skyscraper. . . [H]eartrending. STARRED REVIEW


— Shelf Awareness

The atmosphere will draw listeners in immediately … and many youngsters will appreciate the recognition of how sensorily overwhelming a cityscape can be and the tips for finding smaller pools of quiet and respite. STARRED REVIEW

— The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

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