Small Things cover

By Mel Tregonning & Mel Tregonning

Small Things

Three starred reviews called Small Things “monumental” (Booklist), “superb” (School Library Journal) and “intense” (Foreword Reviews). In this short, wordless graphic picture book, a young boy feels alone with his anxiety. He isn’t fitting in well at school. His grades are slipping. He’s even lashing out at those who love him.

Talented Australian artist Mel Tregonning created Small Things in the final year of her life. In her emotionally rich illustrations, the boy’s worries manifest as tiny beings that crowd around him constantly, overwhelming him and even gnawing away at his very self. The striking imagery is all the more powerful when, overcoming his isolation at last, the boy discovers that the tiny demons of worry surround everyone, even those who seem to have it all together.
This short but hard-hitting wordless graphic picture book gets to the heart of childhood anxiety and opens the way for dialogue about acceptance, vulnerability, and the universal experience of worry.

Available In


Ages 8-12
ISBN: 978-1-77278-141-0
List Price: $23.95 CAD / $19.95 USD
Hardback with reinforced binding & with printed dust jacket
Trim Size: 8.25 x 11.00 inches / 20.955 x 27.94cm
Pages: 40

Publication date: November 17, 2020

Distributed in Canada by University of Toronto Press

Distributed in the U.S. by Ingram Publisher Services

Carton Quantity: 34

Paperback / softback

Ages 8-12
ISBN: 978-1-77278-132-8
List Price: $16.95 CAD / $14.95 USD
Paperback / softback
Trim Size: 8.25 x 11.00 inches / 20.955 x 27.94cm
Pages: 40

Publication date: February 9, 2021

Distributed in Canada by University of Toronto Press

Distributed in the U.S. by Ingram Publisher Services

Carton Quantity: 70

About this book


Praise for Small Things

2018 Foreword INDIES Award: Graphic Novels & Comics Bronze Winner

2019 USBBY Outstanding International Books List – Grades 6-8 selection

2019 Pop Culture Classroom Excellence in Graphic Literature Awards: Best in Children’s Graphic Literature shortlist

2018 Horn Book “August 2018 Back-to-School Horn Book Herald: Intermediate” selection

2018 NCTE “Spring Into New Book Recommendations” selection

2023 School Library Journal “15 Visual Books to Help Students Grapple with Big Feelings” Selection

2018 School Library Journal blogger Elizabeth Bird’s “2018 Books with a Message” selection

2018 School Library Journal blogger Elizabeth Bird’s “2018 Wordless Picture Books” selection

2018 The Children’s Book Review “The Best Kids Chapter Books and Novels of 2018” selection

2018 The Children’s Book Review “Best New Books for Tweens & PreTeens | March 2018” selection

2017 Gold Ledger Award Winner (Australia)

2017 Australian Book Design Awards – Best Designed Children’s Illustrated Book shortlist (Australia)

2017 Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year, Crichton Award for New Illustrators shortlist (Australia)

2017 Children’s Book Council of Australia Picture Book of the Year longlist (Australia)

★ STARRED REVIEW “Much like the boy’s ever-transforming anxieties, panels shift from slender, compressed squares to sweeping double-page spreads. The otherworldly glow of the black-and-white palette, too, elegantly underscores the boy’s ongoing battle against darkness. More than a moving portrayal of one boy’s struggle, this is also a magnifying lens through which to identify and discuss mental illness with readers of all ages. Don’t let its title or page count fool you, Small Things‘ effects are monumental.”—Booklist Starred Review

★ STARRED REVIEW “[An] incredibly moving tale…This wordless, picture book–size graphic novel is rendered in beautiful gradients of pencil….[A] sympathetic examination of anxiety that never assigns blame; instead, the authors acknowledge the complexity of the situation and that resolutions aren’t easy….VERDICT With direction from educators, guidance counselors, or parents, this poignant title will resonate with those dealing with mental illness. A superb example of bibliotherapy.”—School Library Journal Starred Review

★ STARRED REVIEW “A boy struggles to fit in at a new school in this wordless story with a big message about childhood anxiety and the power of kindness and acceptance….[The illustrations] depict the insidious nature of worry…”—Foreword Reviews Starred Review

Small Things, a wordless graphic novel by Mel Tregonning…is an extra¬ordinary example: an illustrated book that communicates difficult, painful ideas solely via intricate monochrome graphite drawings….[I]t offers a significant potential gift: understanding, and the possibility of recovery…The image of a small, vulnerable body breaking down by degrees, while deeply discomfiting, honours the weight of what it conveys; and the book as a whole celebrates the helpfulness of uncon¬ditional love, while successfully avoiding a superficial, unduly swift resolution.”—The Times Literary Supplement, “Buzz-saw of the imagination”

“In this wordless story told through paneled graphite art that makes achingly attuned use of chiaroscuro, a boy is having a hard time—not the kind many picture-book kids have en route to finding a problem’s clear-cut solution, but an enduringly hard time….One hopes this book will reach children who relate to the boy’s plight and anyone who, like the boy’s sister, suspects that a loved one is in pain and needs help.”—The Horn Book Magazine

“The late Australian artist Tregonning’s wordless graphic tale, completed posthumously with help from Shaun Tan, captures the way anxiety can ravage children’s lives….Tregonning creates a visual language for the pain of depression and anxiety, and her story may provide a measure of hope to those who might otherwise have given up in despair.”—Publishers Weekly

“[R]efreshing visibility and validity of childhood pressures accompanied by the equally important realization that no one is alone in their experience…”—Kirkus Reviews

“Every once in a while, we are privileged with the gift of holding in our hands truly unique and emotionally riveting books which have the capacity to leave permanent footprints etched in the heart. Mel Tregonning’s Small Things is, undeniably, one of those books….[A] wordless masterpiece that…effortlessly taps into the rawness of the human experience….This beautifully depicted textless narrative which effectively honours not only the life of Tregonning, herself, but also the lives of all those who have been impacted by struggles with mental health, is a must-have, one-of-a-kind addition to every school library and home collection. Highly Recommended.”—CM Magazine

Small Things…is all at once superbly illustrated, unforgettable, extremely emotionally resonant, beautiful, heartbreaking, and hopeful…I highly, highly recommend this title for readers young and old.”—Fab Book Reviews

“This graphic picture book just blew me away….The drawings are amazing, showing the child’s emotions clearly. The way the drawings show the loss of self are brilliant and relatable. I absolutely loved this book and will be recommending it. The publisher information indicates a targeted age range of 8-12, but it can definitely be for adults as well.”—Canadian Bookworm

“This is an important book for pre-teens and young teens that deal with or know someone that deals with anxiety. A must for middle grade school libraries and would be an ideal conversation starter for classrooms. Like The ArrivalSmall Things is also a book this bookseller won’t forget.”—Marmalade Books

“The illustrations in this book are beautiful….[A] great, honest way to show how the demons of anxiety can consume a child or adult. I loved this picture book! It is a powerful story for adults or children.”—Jill’s Book Blog

“[O]ne of the most unique picture books I have read in a while….What a powerful message with powerful illustrations….[T]his book is a great starting pointing to help identify anxiety and ensure my son never let the demons win.”—BookTime

“[E]veryone…has their own cracks and missing pieces and maybe by reaching out with kindness we all can slowly heal. Tregonning has written a wordless picture book, that is almost dense enough to be a graphic novel…ESSENTIAL”—Kiss the Book

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Teaching Guide

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