Enormous Smallness is the perfect title for a picture book about e.e. cummings. It aptly describes a man who defied literary logic to become one of the most revered poets of the 20th century.
This is non-fiction at its most engaging. The book delivers chronological information on e.e.’s life in compact sentences, easily digestible for young readers. From his first attempts at poetry, to his summers at the cottage, his experiences become relatable, and real, capturing imagination. His first poem “Oh, my little birdie, oh! With his little toe, toe, toe” inspired my daughter to experiment with her own rhymes. As the book progresses and we see e.e. grow up, the story showcases the way he saw words on the page, the reader is challenged to look at poetry through a different lens, rather like deciphering a puzzle.
His tenacity in the face of criticism is a lesson in self-truth that children should be reminded of every day. Burgess has lovingly framed the poet’s life by celebrating what the he loved most: The little things, the everyday minutiae that we so often take for granted.
The beauty of the art is in its simplicity, clean lines, and muted colours that fill the entire page. The use of e.e.’s favourite animal- the elephant, is interspersed throughout, reminding us that at his core e.e. retained his childhood experiences, and drew on them to create.
A clever, inspiring story that may just set your child on the path to becoming a literary pioneer.
And maybe you, too.
Kinderlit.ca requested and received a copy of Enormous Smallness in exchange for an honest review. Read about our review policy HERE.