A review by studiomikarts
Small in the City by Sydney Smith

emotional hopeful sad fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? Yes


Looking at the cover alone, there was nothing that drew me to this book. I had glanced at it for a split second while browsing the SCBWI summer conference faculty bookstore and didn't give it a second thought. But after having it read to me during the illustrators intensive by the author-illustrator himself, I was moved nearly to tears by its powerful storytelling. I ordered it the same day and it reached me less than a week later. Reading it again, this time from my own personal copy, and even knowing the surprise twist, I was still a tad choked up by the end. I took a measly .25 of a star away from my rating because 1) the art style, though award-winning, is not always to my taste (overall I enjoyed it; I especially admire the treatment of reflections in glass and the depiction of snow falling more and more heavily), 2) the font choice just doesn't appeal to me, and 3) the portrait format of the book, while I can see its use in conveying the idea of tall buildings and cramped city spaces, made the book physically hard to read (hard to keep the pages down so that I could see the illustrations properly). Other than those tiny dings, which would not prevent me from buying the book again if I could go back in time, I loved everything about this picturebook and I'm proud to have it in my collection, both as a student of storytelling technique, and as a simple reader who loves moving tales.

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