The Little Island



Seashore world comes alive in this classic book.
Caldecott Medal and Honors

What parents need to know

Positive messages
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Violence & scariness
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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is one of many reprints of this 1947 Caldecott Medalist, and is free of anything offensive. Though this paperback edition is charming, an earlier hardback edition might show off the art of the illustrations more beautifully.

Kids say

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What's the story?

As seasons change, days and nights pass, and storms come and go, life changes on the little island, but the little island is steady through it all. One summer day, a kitten sails over with some people on a picnic and spends the day prowling around.

When the kitten belittles the island for being so small and unimportant, the island sends him to a fish who helps him see that, even though the island seems small, it's truly a part of the bigger world.

Is it any good?


THE LITTLE ISLAND is a beautiful, intriguing book on many levels. The illustrations are remarkable, and so is the simple, profound story. On one hand, it's an engaging, sensitive introduction to nature on a small island in Maine. On the other, it's a lesson in feeling important, no matter how small you appear to be.

This book was published in 1946 under the pseudonym Golden McDonald, actually Margaret Wise Brown, who is better known for her well-loved bedtime book, Goodnight, Moon. That she grew up along Long Island Sound and later lived on the coast of Maine is clearly reflected in the vivid descriptions. While reading about the lobsters, kingfishers, fireflies, and storm-drenched beaches, readers can almost smell the salt and sand, hear the whistling wind, and taste the seam and they can feel the tranquil beauty of the shoreline world. Her friend, illustrator Leonard Weisgard caught her enthusiasm for the Maine coast, which led to his award-winning pictures that he said "grew right up out of the water."

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about nature in this book, which is both a science lesson and a presentation of Margaret Wise Brown's philosophy of life and love of nature. The island is teeming with life, and it all changes with the seasons. What birds, bugs, and sea life can you identify? How can you tell what season it is? What does make something an island? What secret does the kitten learn? Would you believe the fish? Would you take his explanation "on faith" as the kitten does?

Book details

Author:Margaret Wise Brown
Illustrator:Leonard Weisgard
Genre:Picture Book
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Dell Dragonfly Books
Publication date:July 27, 2004
Number of pages:48
Publisher's recommended age(s):5 - 7
Award:Caldecott Medal and Honors

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Educator and Parent Written bydeannad44 October 11, 2012

Little Island, Big Thoughts

The Little Island won the Caldecott Medal Award in 1947. It is a very simplistic children's picture book with big idea themes. Its pictures are very colorful, distinguished, and vivid, most of them of nature. The main ideas of the book are change, perspective,and faith. The book discusses how the seasons change and how are physical earth changes simultaneously with them. The book also discusses point of view or perspective. The little kitten is astonished when the Island tells her that he is also part of the land. The kitten questions how this is possible when he is surrounded by water. The Island tells her to ask any fish. The fish exclaims to her that under the water there is land that surrounds the Island. The kitten says that she can not see this. The fish then goes on to tell her that she must have faith- "To believe what I tell you about what you don't know." This book can be used in a kinder, first, or second grade classroom. It is a simple read which makes it easy for them to read themselves. I will definitely be using this book in my classroom one day.
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