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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
My Little Small
by Ulf Stark
Age Range: 6-8
A lonely grey Creature lives deep within a cave in a grey mountain. Her whole world is grey, grey, grey. The Creature is lonely. She can only come out at night because sunlight makes her sick, so during the day she occupies herself in a variety of ways: from watching the shadows slide along the walls of her cave as she tries to sleep or counting her fingers and toes. Sometimes she wakes up crying or she tries to sing a little song, but sometimes she just grinds rocks between her teeth. Finally, when dusk falls the Creature is able to go outside and then she feels calmer. One morning something bright flies into the Creature’s cave - a little sun spark. From that moment everything changes and although fleeting, it is profound.
Young readers cannot fail to empathise with the Creature’s many emotions as she wrestles with her loneliness, longing, and frustration. But through her brief meeting with the little sun spark the Creature appears to become happier and satisfied with life.
Written by renowned Swedish author Ulf Stark, (who sadly died in 2017), and translated by Annie Prime, this is a touching philosophical story. Although at first glance it appears a simple enough tale dealing with loneliness and finding friendship, however fleeting, with the overriding message that caring for others is important and what gives our lives satisfaction and meaning.
The charming simplistic and expressive watercolour artwork by Swedish illustrator Linda Bondestam have created an endearing protagonist with each image beautifully animating Stark’s prose.
Other books by Ulf Stark on the website are:
Can you Whistle, Johanna? (Gecko 2005); My Friend Percy’s Magic Gym Shoes (Gecko 2005); My Friend Percy and the Sheik (Gecko 2006); My Friend Percy and Buffalo Bill (Gecko 2008); Fruitloops and Dipsticks (Gecko 2010); When Dad Showed Me the Universe (Gecko 2015).