The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade

The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade

Written by Justin Roberts

Illustrated by Christian Robinson

GP Putnam’s Sons, 2014

30 pages, Realistic Fiction

Sally McCabe is the smallest girl in the smallest grade, and even though she is not noticed very often, she notices everything around her. She especially notices the bullying that goes on in the classroom and on the playground. Even though she is so small, she finds the courage to speak out and ask her classmates to be nice to one another. She learns that even a small voice can make a big difference!

This book primarily functions as a mirror and a door. Because Sally is a student who uses her voice to make an extraordinary change, students in any grade can see themselves in Sally and make a change. The students in Sally’s class represent a diverse group of cultures, so lots of children might be able to see themselves represented in this book. The story also provides a door for standing up for others and letting voices be heard. Because Sally’s words made a huge difference, students can see the impact of their words and how they can help other people who are being bullied. The message is for children of all ages, but because the words of the text rhyme, the story can be more accessible for younger children as well.

Award winning illustrator Christian Robinson used colored pencils to create the images for this text. All of the images have bright, highly-pigmented colors that can help to capture the attention of younger readers who would look at the images. Towards the beginning of the book, many of the students in Sally’s class have frowns on their faces because of the bullying that takes place in the classroom and on the playground. Sally herself does not smile until after she tells her classmates to be nice to one another. However, after Sally’s declaration, all of the students are smiling at recess. The images mirror the text in this respect, because even though some of the students are smiling in the beginning, there are many students who are fighting or leaving each other out. The students who are smiling in the beginning are often either alone or are laughing at their fellow classmates. The images reinforce the text that Roberts wrote, and the images could potentially stand alone for children who cannot read.

The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade was written by Justin Roberts, who is also a Grammy-nominated children’s musician, which is why he chose to write the text to rhyme. The sing-song style of writing helps make the text accessible to younger readers.

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