The Biggest Smallest Christmas Present

Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
The Biggest Smallest Christmas Present Book Poster Image
Teensy girl gets jumbo presents in charming Christmas story.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Young kids are still developing a concept of size and relative size, puzzling over what fits in what (think nesting toys), so it's developmentally helpful for them to imagine how little Clementine experiences items in the larger world such as a teacup, a full-size slipper, a match box. Models writing notes to Santa.

Positive Messages

Even small people (children) can find pleasure and fun in a world geared toward bigger folks. If you have special needs, you can speak up about them and make them known, and others can accommodate you. Parents and families can support you and help you express your needs.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Clementine is a strong girl role model, speaking up about her particular and unusual needs, and resourceful finding ways to communicate them. Despite the challenges of living in a world sized for others, she's unfailingly upbeat, and is also resourceful finding ways to enjoy the big-size world. Her parents are supportive and encouraging.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Harriet Muncaster's The Biggest Smallest Christmas Present is a new take on a classic kid-pleasing idea: a teeny-tiny being living in a big world. Think Thumbelina, Tom Thumb, and the host of kids' stories about mice. This story's set at Christmas and poses a holiday challenge: How will tiny Clementine let Santa know she needs smaller presents? It features a determined girl who's also cheerfully adaptive to her circumstances, plus a family that's supportive of its tiniest member's unusual needs. There are implicit messages about inclusion, sticking up for yourself, being resourceful, and being supportive as a family. In this charming holiday-themed story, there's real fun for kids in scanning the pictures to see how little Clementine puts big objects to her own ingenious tiny uses.

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What's the story?

In THE BIGGEST SMALLEST CHRISTMAS PRESENT teensy-tiny Clementine is "the smallest girl in the world." She bathes in a teacup, sleeps in a matchbox, and generally enjoys her size. But when Christmas comes, Santa brings her presents that are too big for her. Though she figures out ways to have fun with them, she tries to communicate her need for smaller presents. The first year, she writes Santa a message on a cookie. The next year, she scrawls a message in the snow on the roof, hoping he'll see it from his sleigh. And when that doesn't work, her parents help her hang pictures of herself with her presents so Santa will see just how tiny she is in comparison. Clementine's initially disappointed when once again Santa leaves her a very large box, but she's ecstatic when she opens it to find a doll house. Finally she has a present that's just the right size.

Is it any good?

This playful, inventive holiday book combines a Santa story with a kid-pleasing one about a tiny creature living in a too-big world. The Biggest Smallest Christmas Present echoes classics like Thumbelina and Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Two Bad Mice, in which a mouse couple takes up residence in a dollhouse, stories that are fun for kids since they themselves are small creatures in a big world. This story also has a distinctly contemporary feel. Tiny Clementine has a buoyant spirit, as does the text. "Most of the time, it was fun to be tiny." And though she's never daunted by the challenges of her size, she's determined to communicate her needs, making her a perfect role model for girls.

Author-illustrator Harriet Muncaster has loads of fun picturing tiny, tenacious Clementine next to her looming toys, giving kids plenty to inspect visually. This fresh take on Christmas is a welcome addition to a family's holiday shelf, and is enjoyable enough that it could even become a surprise off-season favorite.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Clementine uses regular-sized objects in The Biggest Smallest Christmas Present. Look closely at the pictures to find all the things she uses. How does she make them work for her?

  • Do you ever feel that you're a small person in a big world? When do you feel that way? How can you communicate your needs to your family and others?

  • Can you think of other stories or books about teensy-tiny people in a regular-size world? Why do you think kids like those stories? What makes them fun?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love Christmas tales

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