Title: Small, Medium & Large
Author/Illustrator: Jane Monroe Donovan
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Word Count: 68
It’s day three of PB 14:14 and today I’ve chosen another book from my personal collection. This one is called Small, Medium & Large, and it is virtually wordless. The only words in the story are the words in a young girl’s letters to Santa Clause. Even though it is technically a Christmas book, it is so much more.
For the purposes of the PB 14:14 challenge, I want to discuss Beginnings and Endings first. The story begins with a letter to Santa:
How are you? How are the reindeer? I hope you can find our new house. I don’t need any new toys this year but…
We don’t get to see the rest of the letter, but through the illustrations we follow the girl as she mails the letter, decorates the house for Christmas, and comes downstairs on Christmas morning to find three presents waiting for her under the tree. As she opens the small box, out pops a cat. In the medium box, she discovers a dog. And in the large box, she finds a pony.
I want to stop here for a moment to mention how absolutely gorgeous the illustrations are throughout the book, which was the main reason I purchased the book in the first place.
Now, back to the story. The book continues to follow the little girl as she spends the rest of the day with her three new friends. They eat breakfast, play in the snow, make cookies, and hang out in front of the fireplace together.
The story ends with another letter to Santa:
I just wanted to say THANK YOU! Thank you for my new best friends. Happy New Year!
P.S. Next Christmas, could you please bring a new bone, some carrots, and a toy mouse?
Thus the story begins and ends with a letter, which gives us a sense of closure.
I also want to mention the themes of loneliness and friendship. The little girl, Sammy, is clearly an only child and as her first letter tells us, she just moved to a new house, so we get the sense that she has no friends yet. Even though the letter doesn’t state what she asks Santa for, it is obvious that she wants a friend. It is interesting to note that her parents do not appear at all in the book, which just adds to the feeling of loneliness and quietness at the beginning.
That brings me to another point about Beginnings and Endings. The book starts off very quiet before her new friends arrive, but it also ends very quiet with the last illustration: Sammy and her three animal friends all snug together in her bed asleep, even the pony.