The Little Guys by Vera Brosgol

A cautionary tale from Caldecott Honoree Vera Brosgol

We are the Little Guys. 
Yes, we are small. But there are a lot of us.
Together we are strong, and we can get all we need.

A new addition to my coaching bag is a sleeper tale, The Little Guys.  This versatile book made the rounds of my beginning of the year classroom visits via some interactive read-alouds. Always on the search for a picture book for read aloud that does double duty,  I stumbled upon The Little Guys by Vera Brosgol. At first look. this seems like a perfect book for ‘little people’, the little guys cooperatively get everything they need.

Vera Brosgol draws the reader slowly into the narrative through the illustrations and the text.  

Looking deeper this book is a treasure trove of author’s craft, with type size to match the change in characters, placement of words on the pages to get the reader thinking, and a circular story line.   

 

Students’ theories about characters change as they examine both the text and illustrations

Told from the point of view of the little guys, the words in this story are repetitive and simple.  The start of the story seems so simple, these little guys work together for the greater good. As the narrative moves forward, their cooperation has an effect that causes readers to stop and ponder. Further in The Little Guys encouraged readers to backtrack to view the narrative through  the point of view of the minor characters, the ‘big’ animals in the forest. Why do they do the things they do?  

 

The room explodes as students want to talk over character moves and motivation. 

The combination of simple text and unexplained visuals lends itself to rich conversations with classes from first through fourth grade and perhaps beyond.  This book could be a great introduction to character change, the story arc, point of view, and author’s craft. 

 

Mentor moves of elaboration are easily reproduced by young writers.

What teachers say…

“This was a great text to explore story arc.  Did you hear the students explode with talk as they realize the reversal in character motivation? “

“This book really got my class talking.  Strategic stops can encourage deep thinking.”

What students say…

“This book is puzzling.”

“I didn’t think the little guys would act like that!”

“Why did the other animals do that?”   

“I would give this book a five.”

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