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Small World

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When Nanda is born, the whole of her world is the circle of her mother’s arms. But as she grows, the world grows too. It expands outward—from her family, to her friends, to the city, to the countryside. And as it expands, so does Nanda’s wonder in the underlying shapes and structures patterning it: cogs and wheels, fractals in snowflakes. Eventually, Nanda’s studies lead h When Nanda is born, the whole of her world is the circle of her mother’s arms. But as she grows, the world grows too. It expands outward—from her family, to her friends, to the city, to the countryside. And as it expands, so does Nanda’s wonder in the underlying shapes and structures patterning it: cogs and wheels, fractals in snowflakes. Eventually, Nanda’s studies lead her to become an astronaut and see the small, round shape of Earth far away. A geometric meditation on wonder, Small World is a modern classic that expresses our big and small place in the vast universe.


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When Nanda is born, the whole of her world is the circle of her mother’s arms. But as she grows, the world grows too. It expands outward—from her family, to her friends, to the city, to the countryside. And as it expands, so does Nanda’s wonder in the underlying shapes and structures patterning it: cogs and wheels, fractals in snowflakes. Eventually, Nanda’s studies lead h When Nanda is born, the whole of her world is the circle of her mother’s arms. But as she grows, the world grows too. It expands outward—from her family, to her friends, to the city, to the countryside. And as it expands, so does Nanda’s wonder in the underlying shapes and structures patterning it: cogs and wheels, fractals in snowflakes. Eventually, Nanda’s studies lead her to become an astronaut and see the small, round shape of Earth far away. A geometric meditation on wonder, Small World is a modern classic that expresses our big and small place in the vast universe.

30 review for Small World

  1. 5 out of 5

    Allie

    Genuinely my new favorite picture book. The text is so lyrical, and hits just the right repetitive notes to be soothing but not annoying. I love the gentle journey Nanda goes through her entire life, and the illustrations fit really perfectly. I will definitely be looking for an opportunity to read this during story time and give it as a gift!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Monique Fields

    Ishta shows us how a child's world expands as she grows older. The lyrical prose makes for a fun read as Nanda literally grows up on the book's pages. This one will surely inspire children to take risks and see the world.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Abigail

    When Nanda is small, her world is as well, encompassed by her mother's cradling arms. As she grows, so too does her world, her horizons expanding as her knowledge and experience do. Growing up, going to college, eventually becoming an astronaut, she eventually sees the world as small again. When viewed from space, that is... A lovely book, one which explores the individual's relationship to their world, and their changing perceptions of that world as they grow, Small World pairs a poetic text fro When Nanda is small, her world is as well, encompassed by her mother's cradling arms. As she grows, so too does her world, her horizons expanding as her knowledge and experience do. Growing up, going to college, eventually becoming an astronaut, she eventually sees the world as small again. When viewed from space, that is... A lovely book, one which explores the individual's relationship to their world, and their changing perceptions of that world as they grow, Small World pairs a poetic text from first-time author Ishta Mercurio with gorgeous artwork from illustrator Amy Corace, who has also worked on such titles as Amy Krouse Rosenthal's Little Pea . I appreciated the author's afterword here, which speaks of the inspiration she took from a photograph of some Indian women scientists, and I appreciated the positive message about dreaming big. Recommended to anyone looking for children's stories about growing up and making one's dreams a reality, or about a person's relationship to the wider world.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ben Truong

    Small World is a children's picture book written by Ishta Mercurio and illustrated by Jen Corace, which tells the story of Nanda, a little girl, who grows up to be an astronaut. Mercurio's text is rather simplistic and straightforward. It chronicles the life of Nanda, from a infant where her world was as large as her mother's arm to when she becomes an astronaut and sees just how small the Earth can be. Corace's illustrations are serene and slightly skewed, nontraditional perspective, conferring Small World is a children's picture book written by Ishta Mercurio and illustrated by Jen Corace, which tells the story of Nanda, a little girl, who grows up to be an astronaut. Mercurio's text is rather simplistic and straightforward. It chronicles the life of Nanda, from a infant where her world was as large as her mother's arm to when she becomes an astronaut and sees just how small the Earth can be. Corace's illustrations are serene and slightly skewed, nontraditional perspective, conferring a folk-art sensibility to the spreads. The premise of the book is rather straightforward. When she's a baby, Nanda's world is small, no larger than the circle of her mother’s arms. As she grows, her world does, too, starting from the tight-knit circle of her loving family and spreading outward until it encompasses the whole planet. All in all, Small World is a wonderful children's book about how our perspective of the world changed from an infant, child, adolescent, and adulthood through the wonderful perspective of a wonderful character.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Deborah

    Lyrically conveys the lovely idea that a world can be small and large at the same time.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    The story is simple and the pictures fit it perfectly, but this one just didn't grab me. I think by being a picture book, the format misses its target audience. Obviously, it's meant to showcase the geometry and beauty of nature and the sky. It's meant to show the girl dreaming of bigger and bigger things and eventually working hard and achieving bigger and bigger things. However, the picture book format puts it squarely in the hands of younger children (mostly the preK and even younger crowd) a The story is simple and the pictures fit it perfectly, but this one just didn't grab me. I think by being a picture book, the format misses its target audience. Obviously, it's meant to showcase the geometry and beauty of nature and the sky. It's meant to show the girl dreaming of bigger and bigger things and eventually working hard and achieving bigger and bigger things. However, the picture book format puts it squarely in the hands of younger children (mostly the preK and even younger crowd) and the message of this book just isn't obvious enough for them to grasp. This might work as a read aloud to a young elementary school group, but it's too much for my preschoolers and not enough for my independent readers. If you can find a way to make it work in your story times, though, please let me know how because I love the pictures and the message!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kim Chaffee

    This story is one that you will be happy to read over and over when your child asks you to again and again. Mercurio’s charming, lyrical text partnered with Corace’s stunning art, make this STEM-themed story about Nanda and her growing world one you won’t want to miss.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Michelle (FabBookReviews)

    Children's author Ishta Mercurio (Bite Into Bloodsuckers) and I Hatched illustrator Jen Corace join together to bring readers the wondrous and beautiful picture book Small World. A poetic look at one young girl's changing perspective and relationship to the natural world as she grows up, Small World takes readers on an adventure that begins in the comforting hold of a mother's arms and ends with an awe-inspiring gaze at our world. Nanda got bigger and bigger. But as she grew, the world grew, too Children's author Ishta Mercurio (Bite Into Bloodsuckers) and I Hatched illustrator Jen Corace join together to bring readers the wondrous and beautiful picture book Small World. A poetic look at one young girl's changing perspective and relationship to the natural world as she grows up, Small World takes readers on an adventure that begins in the comforting hold of a mother's arms and ends with an awe-inspiring gaze at our world. Nanda got bigger and bigger. But as she grew, the world grew, too. It became a sway of branches...Scaffolds of steel...And cables and cogs and odds and sods and coasting through the night. When the story's protagonist, Nanda, is born, her world is the circumference of her mother's arms, but as she grows, so too does her world and her view of her world. The "circle of her mother's arms" grows to her include family, schoolmates, a playground, a college...to Nanda growing up mesmerized by shapes, mechanisms, and last, but absolutely not least, aeronautics and SPACE! Through every big change Nanda goes through as she grows up, readers get to see Nanda's changing viewpoints, as well as the ever-present and incredible geometry of shapes in the world. Jen Corace's illustrations are measured, precise and yes, absolutely stunning: they draw the reader and/or listener's eye in and delight with how much there is to see: geometric shapes, lines, colours, patterns. I often speak to the 'match' between an author and illustrator, and how the perfect click between the two works to showcases everyone's talents: for Small World, Mercurio's gloriously poetic and thoughtful, lyrical words (balanced with a gentle, repetitive refrain) are perfectly captured and illuminated by Corace's pencil, ink and gouache full-colour pictures. Overall, what a marvelous picture book! Small World is reflective and wondrous, powerful in text as well as illustration. A recipient of strong and starred reviews, Small World not only speaks to the joy of seeing and experiencing more and more STEAM-related books (and ones with female led characters!), but is also simply a delightful, rousing kind of read that may beg for closer looks, for further investigations, and, possibly, lead to big and small questions about the world. Bonus: Don't miss the "Author's Note" and "About Nanda's Name" at the back of the book, and be sure to take a look on the Abrams site for a look at more interiors from the book! I received a copy of this title courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review and for the purposes of a blog post. All opinions and comments are my own.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Olivia

    See my full review here: https://www.yabookscentral.com/kidsfi... SMALL WORLD is a gorgeous celebration of growing up and following your dreams. When Nanda was born, her world was very small. As she got bigger and older, her world continues to grow, including more people and ideas. When she grows up, she goes to the moon, and now the Earth seems small. With beautiful, geometric illustrations and an ultimate message of achieving your dreams, this is a lovely and lyrical book that celebrates scienc See my full review here: https://www.yabookscentral.com/kidsfi... SMALL WORLD is a gorgeous celebration of growing up and following your dreams. When Nanda was born, her world was very small. As she got bigger and older, her world continues to grow, including more people and ideas. When she grows up, she goes to the moon, and now the Earth seems small. With beautiful, geometric illustrations and an ultimate message of achieving your dreams, this is a lovely and lyrical book that celebrates science. What I loved: The writing in the book has a beautiful flow and rhythm, akin to THE WONDERFUL THINGS YOU WILL BE, and tells a magnificent story. I love how Nanda is female (and non-white) and follows her interest in science throughout her life. The illustrations are elegant and detailed, including things like posters of other female astronauts in Nanda's room. All of this combines into a truly beautiful story. Final verdict: Great for young children of all ages and easily enjoyable by adult readers too, SMALL WORLD is a gorgeous portrayal of following your dreams. In the context of growing experience, Nanda's world keeps expanding and the reader can watch her grow, learn, and reach her goals. Elegant, lyrical, and seemingly magical, this is a fantastic read for children of all ages.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tasha

    Nanda was born into the circle of her mother’s loving arms. As she grew, her world grew too. It grew to include more circles, branches in trees, blocks, steel, and cogs. Her world got bigger as she traveled to college where she built her own helicopter and then became a pilot. Her world continued to grow as she roared into the atmosphere aboard a space shuttle. She was bigger than she had ever been before when she stood on the moon’s surface and looked at the stars above her and Earth glowing in Nanda was born into the circle of her mother’s loving arms. As she grew, her world grew too. It grew to include more circles, branches in trees, blocks, steel, and cogs. Her world got bigger as she traveled to college where she built her own helicopter and then became a pilot. Her world continued to grow as she roared into the atmosphere aboard a space shuttle. She was bigger than she had ever been before when she stood on the moon’s surface and looked at the stars above her and Earth glowing in the sky. Mercurio’s prose plays with perspective right from the first pages. She also includes shapes and components of engineering into Nanda’s childhood. A girl fascinated with science and engineering becomes an astronaut in this book that offers an inspiring look at a girl who grows up as her world grows around her. The illustrations play with shapes on every page, from the patterns of trees and their branches to the quilt below plane wings made up of farmland. Even the stars above form circles at the end of the book along with Earth, guiding readers right back to the circle that the book started with. An inspiring look at a young girl of Indian descent who reaches the stars. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lorie

    When Nanda is born her world is the cozy embrace of her mother, but as she grows her world increases in complexity until she sees earth as an adult from space. This picture book is a delicately woven story that symbolizes that our own personal world can be both big and small depending on how you look at it. Mercurio’s text is lyrical and yet simple enough to capture the attention of a preschool audience, but complex enough to spark great discussion in school age children. Corace’s gouache, ink a When Nanda is born her world is the cozy embrace of her mother, but as she grows her world increases in complexity until she sees earth as an adult from space. This picture book is a delicately woven story that symbolizes that our own personal world can be both big and small depending on how you look at it. Mercurio’s text is lyrical and yet simple enough to capture the attention of a preschool audience, but complex enough to spark great discussion in school age children. Corace’s gouache, ink and pencil illustrations glowingly reflect the growing world view that Nanda is experiencing as she ages. A nice cozy lap read for young children and a good group read aloud for preschool through elementary age children. It could spark some wonderful art projects about the children’s view of their own world. I would recommend this book for purchase by any school or public library. This book was provided by the publisher for professional review by SWON Libraries.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Laurie Hnatiuk

    A delightful book that will empower young readers to see that perspective, wonder and creativity play an important role in our lives. Nanda is small when she is born and we learn how small her world is from being just her mother and then extending out to her family. As Nanda grows so does her world that includes not only family and friends but how manmade objects and nature can define a way to see the world both small and big. And Nanda sees the possibilities of what these materials and structur A delightful book that will empower young readers to see that perspective, wonder and creativity play an important role in our lives. Nanda is small when she is born and we learn how small her world is from being just her mother and then extending out to her family. As Nanda grows so does her world that includes not only family and friends but how manmade objects and nature can define a way to see the world both small and big. And Nanda sees the possibilities of what these materials and structures can be. We see how Nanda continues to expand her love of all things related to engineering and how she creates a career using her perspective of her growing world and the mindset that anything is possible. The author's nots is also worth reading and sharing explaining the meaning behind the story and Nanda's name. A great book to discuss mindset, structures, STEAM and STEM in a classroom.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jana

    Young readers will enjoy considering being both big and small at the same time. When Nanda is born, her world is a small as she, a little baby in her mother's arms. But as Nanda grows, so does the world around her, and so does her ability to see and appreciate all of the patterns around her. Eventually she becomes an astronaut and goes into outer space, where she gets to see how small the world looks from way up there. Gorgeous illustrations along with lyrical text make this a great book to shar Young readers will enjoy considering being both big and small at the same time. When Nanda is born, her world is a small as she, a little baby in her mother's arms. But as Nanda grows, so does the world around her, and so does her ability to see and appreciate all of the patterns around her. Eventually she becomes an astronaut and goes into outer space, where she gets to see how small the world looks from way up there. Gorgeous illustrations along with lyrical text make this a great book to share with young readers, especially at the beginning of the school year.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Krissy Neddo

    I really liked it, but again it's a picture book that speaks to adults and readers older than its format. Possibly an end of fifth grade read/gift to encourage the graduates to keep reaching for bigger and better. I hurriedly finished it the first time I read it, hoping the back pages would reference the prose to a real person. While I appreciate the author's notes and the artwork, not sure this will be a good fit for my library. Definitely a public library borrow if my fifth grade teachers ask I really liked it, but again it's a picture book that speaks to adults and readers older than its format. Possibly an end of fifth grade read/gift to encourage the graduates to keep reaching for bigger and better. I hurriedly finished it the first time I read it, hoping the back pages would reference the prose to a real person. While I appreciate the author's notes and the artwork, not sure this will be a good fit for my library. Definitely a public library borrow if my fifth grade teachers ask for more end of the year reads to send off their elementary graduates.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Alyssa Gudenburr

    A beautiful book about dreams, space, and perspectives. Starts from small world in your mother's arms all the way to space. Then looking back on the Earth, the girl realizes her "big" world is actually small compared to the universe. This would make a great one-on-one story to encourage little girls to dream big.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    Readers see how their worlds expand as they grow up. The world begins as our mother's arms and expands to include the whole universe as we figure out our path in life. Beautiful illustrations show Mercurio's message.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Alyson (Kid Lit Frenzy)

    I liked this book so much. My only criticism (which isn't a real criticism) is that I wanted this to be a biography, a story that was at least based on a real person. I really appreciated the author's note as well.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Bkrieth

    I love the expanding scope and perspective of this book about how we can be both big and small at the sane time. Great female modeling inclusive of diverse cultures, and filled with interesting geometric and mathematical models.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    A lyrical picture book about growing up -- as the world grows with you. Great depiction of a girl pursuing STEM interests, too. Illustrations by Jen Corace have nice geometric and circle motifs. "The art for this book was created with gouache, ink, and pencil on Rives BFK."

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kara

    Stunning.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Julia Crainshaw

    Through the first several pages, I thought this picture book was more for parents than children. However, by the end of the book, I felt it was a wonderful read for both groups.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Allan van der Heiden

    Very short So short not worth the cost of the book but cute just too short the kids just get interested and it ends.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alice

    3 stars

  24. 5 out of 5

    Deanna

    Loved this! Lyrical prose and beautiful art with hints as to where Nanda's story is headed!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    Very nice.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Denise Menger

    Growing up, ambitions, success, a positive environment Good graduation gift

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    Really enjoyed the story and illustrations. Great read-aloud for 3-6 y/o about growing up and seeing the world.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    This is a beautiful picture book about expanding horizons.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Elisabeth

    Loved this whole story and loved the illustrations. I found myself slowing down and taking time to really look at each page. Make sure you read the author's note of how she chose the name Nanda!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Carol Ekster

    Gorgeous language. Beautiful book.

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