You’ve had days where you’ve contemplated giving away nearly everything you own and moving into a tiny house. Of course you have. We all have.

But most of us don’t do it.

You might love the idea of owning a few things, rather than having many things owning you. You imagine all the places you’d go in your tiny house on wheels. The things you’d see. The people you’d meet.

And still you don’t do it. It seems too hard. Too many unknowns.

That’s what Sissy thought, at first, in Sissy Goes Tiny, a picture book by Rebecca Flansburg and B.A. Norrgard.

What’s the story?

Sissy lives with her mom and dad in a Big house surrounded by Big oak trees. She has her own Big bedroom and a Big bed. The sun streams in through Big windows. She plays in a Huge back yard. Her life, she thinks, is perfect.

Until her mommy and daddy tell her that they’ve decided that their family needs to live Tiny. They’re going to sell the Big house and move into a Tiny house on wheels. In their Tiny house, they’ll own fewer things, but have More experiences.

Downsizing is a lot of work

Sissy is not sure she likes the idea. But her parents are excited, and reassuring. More than once, they help her see the connection between having less stuff and having more freedom.

And they set to work, preparing to downsize their home and expand their lives.

It’s a lot of work. There is physical labor involved in going through everything they own and deciding what to keep and what to sell or give away. And there was emotional labor, too. Sissy’s “mommy had tears in her eyes when she said good-bye to her mixer (the one she only used at Christmas).” Her daddy was sad when he gave his golf clubs to a friend.

And yet, when the Big house was finally empty, and the Tiny house arrived, the whole family was delighted! Sissy’s new bedroom was a loft, filled with nothing but the things she loved most.

A realistic ending

Wisely, the book doesn’t end with “happily ever after.” It ends with the realistic acknowledgment that “there would be days when she missed her old bed and many toys.” And yet she wasn’t sad. She was looking forward to the many new adventures that were coming, secure in the knowledge that, wherever her family went, they would always be Home.

For a family considering downsizing – whether by choice or by financial necessity, whether to a tiny home, or just to a smaller house or apartment – Sissy Goes Tiny can help. The book acknowledges the fears, the worry, and the work. And yet, at the same time, it is deeply reassuring.

What I love about Sissy Goes Tiny

There’s a lot to love about Sissy Goes Tiny!

Flansburg and Norrgard capitalized size words (Big and Huge, Small and Tiny) throughout the book. At first, I found it distracting. (I was an English major. What can I say?) But by the time I got to the end of the book, I found it endearing. And on second and third reads, I thought it was a brilliant choice.

I love that Sissy’s family is mixed race. (It’s helpful to remember that the first picture book featuring a mixed race family, Black is Brown is Tan by Arnold Adoff, came out in 1973. And mixed race families are still seriously underrepresented in children’s literature.) Sissy’s mommy is white, and her daddy is Black. Sissy has big, bouncy, curly hair.

And I can’t tell you how much I love the illustrations by Penny Weber. I think she’s my new favorite illustrator.

And I appreciate the notes in the back of the book. There’s a brief bit of history about the tiny house movement, information about the authors and the illustrator, and a story about where Sissy’s name came from.

Sissy Goes Tiny is just a lovely book.

Read More

Twenty Yawns: A review: Twenty Yawns is a wonderful bedtime story featuring a mixed race family. Have your little one yawn along with Lucy, and by the end of the book, they may well be asleep!

Blackout: A review: When the power goes out on a hot summer night, a family isolated by their separate activities comes together.

Home: A picture book built with love and dreams: This lovely book explores many different kinds of homes.

Charlotte Riggle, author of Catherine's Pascha and The Saint Nicholas Day Snow
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