Small and little do not mean the same thing. Ask the spunky protagonist of debut author Maya Myers's Not Little. Sure, she'll admit, "I am the smallest person in my family." And add, "Even my name is small: Dot." But whether at rest or play, in the kitchen or outside, Dot is mighty capable. Author/illustrator Hyewon Yum (Saturday Is Swimming Day) makes delightfully, whimsically certain that Dot takes up plenty of energetic space with her vibrant personality and independent tenacity.
Dot is "the smallest person in [her] class." Wherever she goes she finds she must prove again and again, "I may be small, but I'm not little." And then a new boy appears at school. What Dot instantly notices is that Sam "might even be smaller" than she is. She attempts to sidle up to him to compare heights but doesn't want to frighten him. In the lunchroom, however, she proves plenty scary when a lunchroom bully tries "mean boy" tactics on innocent Sam. Suddenly, she might be "the biggest kid [Sam's] ever met," especially when it comes to standing tall against adversity.
Myers clearly channels her elementary school teaching experience in creating Dot and Sam's recognizable exchanges about unfamiliar classrooms and playgrounds, tiptoeing through social dynamics and navigating new relationships. Yum's enchanting color-pencil illustrations elevate Myers's text with ingenious visual enhancements. On every page, Yum includes diverse faces: the opening spread shows Dot's family with parents and grandparents of ethnically different backgrounds. She also imbues characters with energy and motion and her ample use of white space allows them to take center stage. By book's end, Dot proves her whole small body has a mighty big voice that will be heard. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon