Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Itty Bitty by Cece Bell

Booklist starred (July 2009 (Vol. 105, No. 21))
Preschool-Grade 1. A tiny dog named Itty Bitty finds an enormous bone and, after chewing door and window holes in it, hollows it out to make a house. The empty bone doesn’t feel quite homelike, though, so Itty Bitty drives into the city to visit a department store. Beyond the gigantic chairs and rugs, he finds the TEENY-WEENY Department, where he chooses “an itty-bitty table and an itty-bitty rug . . . / an itty-bitty sofa and an itty-bitty lamp.” There’s even an itty-bitty book. He carts his purchases away and turns his empty bone into a cozy home. In the colorful ink-and-acrylic illustrations, Bell uses line, color, texture, and white space extremely effectively to create this diminutive character and his world. Itty Bitty, drawn with a highly simplified body and stick legs, is dwarfed by the daisies and grass surrounding his home and sometimes appears quite vulnerable (and who wouldn’t be, driving a three-wheeled, walnut-shell vehicle among full-size cars?). But more often, this small, stalwart character looks as capable and confident as every young child would like to feel. With its irresistible repetitions of “itty-bitty” and occasional comments in speech-balloons, the simple text reads aloud well. Unpretentious, endearing, and enormously satisfying, this little book is one that children will ask for again and again.

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