Book Review: The Small Five, by R Johnstone

Book Review: The Small Five, by Ralph Johnstone

A delightful picture book for young children using African animals & rhyme to teach that smaller things are still important & shouldn’t be judged on their size.


The Small Five is a delightful picture book written by Ralph Johnstone and illustrated by Harriet Stanes. This book will appeal to young children, with rhyming and illustrated sections of text further adding to its appeal.

thesmallfive200The choice of well-known large African animals and lesser known small ones enhances the understanding that smaller things are often overlooked whilst still being important. There is a strong and well-stated message in this story that is aimed at children’s self – concept and worth, the idea that nothing and no one should be judged on their size. In the conclusion of this narrative it is beautifully emphasised, “And it’s time we all realise, that being big and tough isn’t ever enough, to judge someone purely on size.”

The rhyming format and use of language give the reader an opportunity to fall into the rhythm of the story and to enjoy the subtle humour embedded in it. The illustrations provide added detail and movement as the story progresses and are bright and varied, showing small portions of the African landscape.

Part of the proceeds from the sales of this book support children living at the Kenya Children’s Home by buying produce from Nairobi’s Organic Farmer’s Market. It truly is ‘A little rhyme with a big heart’ as declared on the rear cover.

If you have a child who is exploring books and listening to stories, I would recommend this book as a great birthday or Christmas gift if you need a reason to buy it, otherwise, should you see it and buy it. Your child will thank you and have it read to them over and over again.

Reviewed by Leanne Caune

Rating out of 10:  8.5

Publisher: Little Steps Publishing
Release Date: August 2016
RRP: $14.95

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