Sally Soweol Han, Tiny Wonders, University of Queensland Press, February 2022, 40 pp., RRP $24.99 (hbk), ISBN 9780702263477
The first thing that hit me about Tiny Wonders was the riotous colour of the flowers on the cover, and the wide-eyed happy smile of the little girl carrying the jar. This is the story of April trying to bring that same sense of wonder and delight to everyone around her, and the way she settles on is dandelions. Something simple, something every day.
Everything around April is grey, and all the adults are too caught up in the bustle to stop and see the sky or notice the delightful little things around them. But her Grandma had never been too busy, and remembering Grandma gives April an idea of how to give everyone tiny wonders.
The choice of dandelions as the metaphor is a multilayered one, inviting the reader to reflect on the flowers that come from something as small and wispy as a dandelion seed, and the practise of blowing on a dandelion head to make a wish. Dandelions, too, are such a common, everyday flower written off as weeds, but Sally Soweol Han reminds us that there are other ways to look at them. The beautiful pages at the end of the story that show an array of flowers and what they mean also offers yet another layer of significance to the choice of dandelions in the story.
I love the illustrations when flowers explode in a riot of colour, and the way the expressions and smiles grow as the colours become the colours of spring. The themes of wishes, and wonder, and patiently working to create delight are subtle and sweet.
The understated link between the generations is a delight, too, and if this book were to be used in a classroom, it could be interesting to reflect on the use of height and perspective between April and the other figures in the illustrations. Who is on April’s level early on? Who is towering over her? And how does that change? Who do we see in the illustrations at the end that we didn’t see in the first few pages?
Tiny Wonders is a charming book that will be enjoyed by young readers from 4 to 6 years and would make a wonderful book to read and reflect on in the classroom or a library group.
Reviewed by Emily Clarke