I played one year of high school tennis. It was doubles and I was paired up with a kid who was far and away the smallest kid in my grade. I happened to be the tallest. This made for some interesting tennis, but didn’t change the fact that we both played hard. I bring up this story because “Not So Tall for Six” is a book that will not only appeal to still-waiting-for-their-growth-spurt kids, but also to the ones who are embarrassed about their rangy clumsiness. See, it’s more about doing the right thing than about height.
Right off the bat “Not So Tall” reminded me of “Saving Sweetness” in its language and setting. The American Southwest doesn’t seem to be the locale for many picture books, and it makes this one stand out. Kylie Bell is the shortest- excuse me, “not so tallest” in her first grade class. She can’t claim surprise though: small stature is a common thing in her family. This occasionally makes life hard, but overall Kylie makes do just fine. Rusty Jacks, a new bully, uses his size to torment his classmates. When lit circle time rolls around in their class and Rusty is circle-less, Kylie makes a hard choice: to be the big person and do the right thing.
Mr. Dormer’s illustrations depict the Southwest in all its glory – cacti, tumbleweeds, and pueblo architecture abound. The style is well suited to the story, which is similarly of-its-place. So: solid story with a not too overbearing message, quality artwork that fits with the text – the makings of a solid selection.
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