Two picture books about small things — that have a big impact

Picture books are mostly meant for small people.

So, perhaps, it’s not surprising that there are lots of picture books about small people and small things. I even have one of my own — NOT SO SMALL with Paola Escobar (HarperCollins, 2022).

But, today, I want to share two new picture books with a focus on small things.

small things mended

I initially purchased both books without knowing a lot about them, and when they arrived, I was so glad I had, because they pack a big, picture-book punch and meet my personal criteria as “books I want to hug.”

First, let’s talk about SMALL THINGS MENDED by Casey W. Robinson and Nancy Whitesides (Rocky Pond Books, 2024). It’s the story of Cecil, a lonely man, who is reminded of his love for fixing things when a neighbor girl’s watch breaks.

Cecil begins fixing items for other kids in the neighborhood — quite successfully, I might add — until he’s asked to fix a stuffed elephant’s broken heart. As he ponders how to best fulfill this unexpected request, Cecil realizes his own heart might need some mending. And, that if he can fix that, he just might be able to help the elephant and do some good for others along the way.

The book overflows with warmth, kindness, hope and love. It also has gorgeous writing, a tight structure and illustrations that glow. What’s more … the words and the art have layers. Each time I’ve read it, I’ve noticed new things and fallen in love all over again.

And, that’s not a small thing.

Next, let’s talk about EVERYONE STARTS SMALL by Liz Garton Scanlon and Dominique Ramsey (Candlewick, 2024). This book is more of a poem, with language that’s beautiful and deceptively simple with unexpected funny and whimsical asides that tie all its parts together wonderfully.

The book talks about how everything in nature starts small but then, “sprouts and bursts and hatches and spreads,” but then can run into roadblocks — like fire — that also just want to grow.

Before the reader knows it, the book is showing how Earth’s ecosystems work together to recover, regenerate and look after themselves.

The whole thing is really a marvel. And, it’s the perfect thing to read together — someone bigger with someone smaller — to start conversations that will also grow and flourish. When I first read this book, I thought: “I never could have written this, but I’m so glad Liz did.”

And that’s not a small thing either.

Some other small news …

If you’re working on creating picture books about big, small or medium things, you might be interested in an online webinar I have coming up.

On April 18, I’ll be talking about Puzzling Out Your Picture Book through the Kidlit Hive. This will be the first time I’ve offered this webinar. It’s about identifying all the pieces of your picture book and figuring out how to get them in exactly the right place.

I’ll walk you through a recent story I wrote and explain how all the parts connect and how I got to them to that point. I’ll also share examples and ideas from other picture book creators. (And, I’ll talk about finding the Dove Dark Chocolate Bar in your story!)

Cost is $14.99. You can join me live to listen and participate in the Q&A, or you can watch a recording of the event afterward. (But, note: If you want to watch the recording, you have to register before the webinar. Copies will not be available for purchase after the fact.)

Here are the details and registration information. I hope to see you there.


  1. Aw, the first book reminds me of my father-in-law who loves fixing things. What a sweet story about mending hearts.

    And Liz Garton Scanlon is one of my favorites. Will have to check it out too. Thank you, Pat!

  2. Thank you, Pat! I just registered for the webinar. I always learn so much from you.

  3. Both lovely books – thanks for sharing.

  4. Running out to get both these books. “Small Things Mended” sounds right up my alley. And “Everyone Starts Small”? — ‘Before the reader knows it, the book is showing how Earth’s ecosystems work together to recover, regenerate and look after themselves.’ — leave it to Liz Garton Scanlon! How does she DO that?? Thank you for this, Pat Zietlow Miller. See you on 4/18!

  5. Thanks, Pat, From your post I can tell these books are extra special and have great takeaways.

  6. Small Things Mended is such a lovely book with beautiful layers.

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