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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 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.

32 pages, Hardcover

First published July 2, 2019

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Ishta Mercurio

2 books48 followers

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5 stars
158 (32%)
4 stars
220 (44%)
3 stars
102 (20%)
2 stars
11 (2%)
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2 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 82 reviews
Profile Image for Allie.
1,377 reviews38 followers
June 29, 2019
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!
Profile Image for Monique Fields.
16 reviews1 follower
August 15, 2019
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.
Profile Image for Abigail.
7,083 reviews173 followers
July 3, 2019
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.
Profile Image for Debbie Ohi.
Author 23 books205 followers
January 1, 2020
Beautiful and lyrical writing, stunning illustrations ; be sure to check beneath the book's dust jacket for more gorgeous art! Encourages young readers (and not-so-young readers) to always be curious about the world around them. I *love* that the little girl grows up to be an astronaut!
5,870 reviews131 followers
July 20, 2019
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.
Profile Image for Deborah.
Author 15 books181 followers
August 2, 2019
Lyrically conveys the lovely idea that a world can be small and large at the same time.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
3,428 reviews44 followers
February 5, 2019
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!
Profile Image for Kim Chaffee.
34 reviews2 followers
July 11, 2019
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.
Profile Image for Michelle (FabBookReviews).
1,052 reviews37 followers
August 10, 2019

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.
Profile Image for Storytime With Stephanie.
350 reviews7 followers
March 22, 2021
As we look around we notice things that are big and things that are small. Some shaped like a circle, some like a square and some with no distinguishable shape at all. In Small World author Ishta Mercurio and illustrator Jen Corace take us through life and the noticings of things as they change as we grow.

Nanda is a little girl born into the world of her family. As she grows, her world grows as well, she notices things she never noticed before. She shares these noticings with the reader so they can experience the thrill of observing the world around them.

This lyrical and moving story flows effortlessly from page to page and all of Nanda’s life stages are punctuated with the line “But as she grew, the world grew, too.” connecting her journey from little baby wrapped in her mother’s arms to astronaut exploring the depths of outer space. Ishta Mercurio gives the reader license to dream, to notice all of life, big and small, and to connect life’s happenings to the beauty all around. Her lyrical descriptions create absolute pictures in the reader’s mind, they don’t even need the illustrations. However, the illustrations add beauty and curiosity to the words. Jen Corace has created gorgeous two page spreads filled with all of Nanda’s observations and thoughts.

Small World is a book that will be equally loved by your newest little readers and your readers who have been accessing print text for a long time now. I would challenge teachers of older children to share this book with their children and see how they can extend the learning and create their own observations of the world around them.
Profile Image for Olivia.
2,922 reviews63 followers
August 20, 2019
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.
Profile Image for Tasha.
4,115 reviews102 followers
July 31, 2019
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.
Profile Image for Laurie Hnatiuk.
372 reviews
July 26, 2019
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.
Profile Image for Lorie.
608 reviews9 followers
August 6, 2019
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.
948 reviews6 followers
July 18, 2019
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.
Profile Image for Jana.
2,587 reviews35 followers
August 13, 2019
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.
Profile Image for Brooklyn || The Wild Library.
393 reviews10 followers
October 8, 2019
I loved the story and the concept of this picturebook, but something about it just didn't capture me the way I expected it to. Perhaps it was the illustrations? Anyhow, a very sweet and inspiring book about a young girl named Nanda (which means Joy) who grows bigger and bigger, just like the world around her.... until she finds herself as an astronaut in the biggest environment she could imagine- outer space.
Profile Image for Diane.
6,530 reviews
November 24, 2019
“But as she grew, the world grew, too.”

From her mother’s arms, to her family circle, to her group of “giggling playmates,” Nanda’s sphere of safety and comfort continues to get bigger as Nanda grows older. Soon, her interests grow bigger as well until she is on rocket and then standing on “foreign soil” in space.

A poetic homage to growing up and reaching past your little circle of safety to discover new things, over and over and over.
Profile Image for Kaitlyn.
138 reviews16 followers
November 27, 2019
Small World is a beautiful and empowering picture book. Through it’s lovely pictures and lyrical language, this story follows a strong girl whose world starts small and grows with her as she achieves one amazing thing after another. This book is one that everyone should have on their bookshelves to remind readers and listeners that our world is all about perspective and that we can do anything we set our minds to.
Profile Image for Stephanie Bange.
1,536 reviews11 followers
January 16, 2020
A wonder-filled book!

As Nanda grows older, her perspective of her world grows bigger and broader. Mercurio has painted images with words, using descriptive phrases full of shapes and objects.

Illustrations by Jen Corace were created with gouache, ink and pencil on Rives BFK. They are bright and light, oftentimes whimsical, and carry through with geometric shapes.

Recommended for grades 3-6.
Profile Image for Maureen Marovitch.
26 reviews1 follower
October 10, 2021
A beautifully illustrated picture book following the path of baby Nanda in the circle of her mother's arms through her childhood and all the way to her space adventures as an adult astronaut. The writing is lyrical, the art charming and the message of an Indian girl following her science fascination to become an engineer and astronaut is powerful. Yet I just couldn't shape the feeling that this book will appeal more to adults than to young children.
Profile Image for Alyssa Gudenburr.
1,751 reviews10 followers
August 25, 2019
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.
Profile Image for Mary.
1,241 reviews10 followers
February 3, 2020
As a girl grows and discovers more--by observation, by books, by education--her dreams and her world expands. Eventually, she becomes an astronaut. Observing earth from space, our planet seems small. The text is almost poetic, and the illustrations match the dreamy tone. Recommended for social studies tie-in with community and careers, and to illustrate point of view.
Profile Image for Diana.
62 reviews
July 20, 2020
We loved how the world gets bigger and complex in this book and how you see the main character grow. My kid would ask questions about growing up and going to college or having a job and we would picture different futures for him and reinforcing it is about following your dreams and working hard for them.
September 15, 2020
This beautiful book encourages young readers to explore the big world as they grow. However, what impresses me the most is the feeling of nostalgia at the end of the book: no matter how far you are away from home and how big your world becomes, home is always the place you cherish and look back to, “safe, and warm, and small.”
44 reviews1 follower
September 27, 2020
So much to love in this beautiful book: gorgeous and rich illustrations, lyricism, STEM concepts, perception of big vs small, growing up, chasing dreams, and (for parents) recognizing the need to let go so our children can explore their ever-changing and growing world - a great gift book! And a beautiful integration of text and art!
53 reviews
November 17, 2020
Nanda depicts a female in STEM which in it of itself is so empowering to see in a picture book. She flies a plane and is an astronaut but it comes from following passion. When we grow up we see the world broaden on front of our eyes and I think this book teaches an amazing lesson to kids that there is so much opportunities out there.
September 25, 2021
I just love how this book makes you think about the world. It starts being only as big your parents embrace, but as you grow and learn, it too grows. How much you enjoy a book is all about context and in the context of the world right now, I think many people could use the reminder that our world is as big as we make it. In order to expand our world, we need only look past ourselves to grow.
Profile Image for Alyson (Kid Lit Frenzy).
2,540 reviews708 followers
June 7, 2019
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.
329 reviews1 follower
July 24, 2019
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.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 82 reviews

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