Review: The Tale Of The Tiny Man

This strange moving tale is a poignant ode to fidelity and the simplicity of true friendship. Its appeal relies on powerfully defined characters, the main one being a tiny man in lieu of a child which means adults sharing this story with younger readers will enjoy its relatability as much as children.

The tiny man is a petite loner who is unspeakably lonely. His solitude is treated with distain and intolerance by other people. Even mean-hearted dogs growl at him. He has no one and thus feels like no one. Others' inexplicable acts of indifference and cruelty bewilder and sadden him; he is a kind man after all and wants nothing more than a friend. So one day, he advertises for one via a note pinned to a tree. Then he waits. And waits. And waits. Finally a friend arrives but they are not who he expects. 

This new companion has a cold nose and a delightful sense of play. His appetite is voracious and he is quick to take advantage of the tiny man's hospitality and warm bedroom yet as the days lengthen and the seasons change, this new friend and the tiny man find great joy and satisfaction in each other's presence. Their bond becomes such that former bullies no longer dare to hound or laugh at the tiny man for fear of his new ally's fierce loyalty. 

Days trickle along into spring unrushed and relished until one day a child comes along and the delicate balance of friendship tilts ever so slightly. The tiny man is unable to reconcile this shift with his feelings of rejection and is once again filled with sorrow and hurt. Will he be able to rekindle the warmth of friendship and find room in his heart for more than one friend?

This affecting English translation of Barbro Lindgren's original 1979 tale reflects the author's ability to convey intense emotion under the cover of gentle comedy. Feelings of alienation and wretched desolation affect many of us at some point in our lives. Even the very young know what rejection and unfriendliness feels like. Lindgren pins these emotions firmly down on every page then builds a tender fetching story around them. 

The Tale of the The Tiny Man is heartfelt without cloying sentimentality. Eva Eriksson's subdue illustrations lift and support the narrative with earnest simplicity. I love their contribution to this gorgeous tale which passes as both an illustrated junior fiction for confident readers or a sumptuous picture book for older readers.

For your chance to win a copy of this beautiful children's classic, enter Kids' Book Review's Giveaway this week!

Title: The Tale Of The Tiny Man
Author: Barbro Lindgren 
Illustrator: Eva Eriksson
Publisher: Gecko Press - Walker Books Australia, $27.99
Publication Date: February 2022
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781776574094
For ages: 2 - 8 
Type: Illustrated Fiction, Picture Book for Older Readers


Norah Colvin said…
The message in this book sounds powerful though subtle, Dimity.
I was surprised to find the character in a children's book to be an adult as I was told by a publisher that characters must be children (I had written a story about an old lady). Seeing the date of initial publication reassured me that the trend for child characters is still current. (I'd love to win a copy of this book. 😊)
DimbutNice said…
Yes, I was initially intrigued as well, Norah. The tiny man is even aged at around 40 years! And yet, with his moon round smiling face and childlike innocence he is every bit as appealing as an anthropomorphic bear or young pre-schooler. It is what he is experiencing, the lack of friendship, that resonates most predominantly. Plus the key attraction is in the secondary characters too. ;-) Thanks for entering!

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