GOOD READS – CHILDREN’S BOOKS
I’m all about the underdog, which is what initially drew me to the children’s book, Poor Little Guy (Dial Books for Young Readers, 2016), which is written and illustrated by Elanna Allen. The cover was inviting and hinted at the possibility of being able to teach my 4-year-old son about bullies and how little guys can stand up for themselves. After reading it, I was right about the simplicity of the story and how it can provide an important lesson for pre-school and early elementary aged kids. The fact that the characters are a little blowfish and enormous octopus is a bonus.
The start of the book has the bespectacled blowfish looking down in the dumps, while an octopus catches a glimpse of him in the corner of his eye. As the blowfish swims past him, he knows he’s at risk. The octopus quickly begins man handling the blowfish and pretends to play a series of games designed to belittle the blowfish, who is clearly supposed to be not only smaller than the octopus but also nerdy.
Intricate swirls and muted colors with the blowfish’s pop of yellow catch the eye. And – spoiler alert – the little guy wins in the end by blowing himself up like a balloon, replete with thorns, just as the octopus is trying to eat him. All in all, the illustrations and the story did exactly what I intended. They share the inspirational story of an underdog defeating a bully and provide a jumping off point for a conversation about treating people kindly and with respect.
Of course, my 4-year-old found both the bully and the blowfish hilarious in their responses to one another. He said the yellow guy (the blowfish) was his favorite. But he seemed to want more and even said, “That’s it? It’s done?”
My only criticism is that the book is heavy on illustration and short on text. I was expecting more of a story. My 4-year-old likes his books a little longer these days. Then again, I feel like I invested in high-quality children’s art, so it was worth it. But I would probably recommend waiting for the paperback version or sale just in the name of frugality. Moms have to watch their pennies, after all.