Children’s Corner: Enormous Smallness by Matthew Burgess

Children’s Corner: Enormous Smallness by Matthew BurgessEnormous Smallness: A Story of E. E. Cummings by Matthew Burgess
Illustrator: Kris Di Giacomo
Published by Enchanted Lion Books on April 14, 2015
Genres: General, Juvenile Nonfiction, Poetry
Pages: 64
Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss for review consideration.
Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration.
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Enormous Smallness is a nonfiction picture book about the poet E.E. Cummings. Here E.E.'s life is presented in a way that will make children curious about him and will lead them to play with words and ask plenty of questions as well. Lively and informative, the book also presents some of Cummings's most wonderful poems, integrating them seamlessly into the story to give the reader the music of his voice and a spirited, sensitive introduction to his poetry. In keeping with the epigraph of the book -- "It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are," Matthew Burgess's narrative emphasizes the bravery it takes to follow one's own vision and the encouragement E.E. received to do just that.

If E. E. Cummings were still alive, I have a feeling he would be delighted with this nonfiction picture book about his life. Enormous Smallness is geared toward the preschool/early elementary crowd. It beautifully captures the spirit of Cummings’ playful and creative way with words in a way that is accessible to young children. Kris Di Giacomo’s illustrations are equally as important as Matthew Burgess’s narrative in accomplishing this.

My 5-year-old was thrilled with this page, which shows the young poet’s father helping bring his son’s creations to life:


I really can’t sing the praises of these illustrations enough. Every single page is so cool! And as Cummings ages, the text begins to match his unique, quirky style more and more. (see more sample pages here)

Sometimes I feel that biographical picture books give too much information. It’s a difficult balance. But in this book, there is just enough factual information presented through short bursts of forward-moving storytelling that is both interesting and relevant to its young audience. This is exactly the kind of nonfiction children’s book I love having in my home: My daughter asked me to read this to her again and again, and I loved it just as much as she did.

  • Wow! What a great way to introduce his work to younger readers!

  • Ciska van der Lans

    This looks brilliant!!

  • I love e e cummings! Thanks for this recommendation!

  • Jennine G.

    Wow – that’s a cool and different type of nonfiction on a rather big topic – famous writer.