Monday, July 8, 2019

Review - Our Big Little Place

Our Big Little Place
by James A. Conan
illustrated by Nicolle Lalonde
Date: 2019
Publisher: Annick Press
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 40
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

Big or small, apartment or house, they’re all home.

Come inside one boy’s high-rise apartment complex, where his backyard is the space between his neighboring apartment buildings, and his basketball net is tucked into a bedroom. His parents sometimes complain their home is too small, but the boy’s balcony view of the city and the extended play space of the hallways are a few ways that make the boy’s house feel just the right size.

Our Big Little Place is a charming child’s-eye-view tribute to the power of imaginative play and the diversity of the living spaces we call home.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This book is basically a glorification of cramped apartment living, told from the point of view of a very small child. The parents are portrayed as wrong for wanting more space, simply because the kid doesn't see any need for it.

Well, a child this young wouldn't see anything wrong with a tiny space, even though it's so cramped that he gets bored, acts like a brat, and ruins the quality of life for his neighbours. I couldn't put my finger on how old this child was supposed to be. His voice in the narrative makes him seem like an older child... yet he still thinks it's appropriate to pull everything out of the fridge so he can mix the wet stuff and the dry stuff together to make "gross, goopy stuff".

The message of this book is confusing. On the one hand, the kid is telling us that small spaces are great. On the other, he's shown being a nuisance precisely because he's confined to a small space. Perhaps the message is simply that we have to make the best of whatever living arrangement we have, but I question how the parents are going to make that work when this hellion is a teenager, is no longer satisfied by making messes in the kitchen, and wants to play with a real basketball in the apartment.

While some people have no choice but to live in the city in an apartment, I would hope they would be better neighbours if they have to live in such close quarters with other people. Letting their kids race bikes up and down the hallways until they cause their neighbours to drop all their groceries as they're stepping out of the elevator isn't exactly a considerate thing to do. That kind of behaviour is what makes apartment living miserable for everyone else.

Thank you to NetGalley and Annick Press for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 2/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 1/5

Overall: 2.17 out of 5

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