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Children's Book Review: The Little General & The Giant Snowflake

In the little general’s world there are two camps; the Realists, which he leads, and the Dreamers, that no one in particular leads. The Realists are fighting about the imagination, they firmly take the stance that they do not believe in it. Imagination is for the Dreamers, who in actual fact, are far too busy playing games to ever engage in a battle.

The appearance of a giant, beautiful snowflake sends the Littlest General into a tailspin; how can he be seeing something that he doesn’t believe in? How can it be cold to the touch, send shimmering sparkled light through his windows and into his house?

The General and the Giant Snowflake is a delightfully fun venture into the land of non-believing, and the excellent illustrations done in black and white only seem to enhance the mood, color would have been far too imaginative for this book! The giant snowflake is an ailment that can only be cured with using one’s imagination, will the Little General finally break free of his routines and structure to embrace his own?

Reading level: Ages 9-12

Page Count: 64 pages

Publisher: Tin House Books

What to expect: black and white illustrations, the book is done in a small format of 6.9 x 5.7 inches, nothing scary for children, and a beautiful tale about using one’s imagination and the happiness that comes with it.

Publisher’s synopsis: The Little General and the Giant Snowflake is a beautifully illustrated allegory by a leading poet, perfect for children and adults alike. The little general heads an army called the Realists, and every day he and his troops practice battle formations on a field, while the Dreamers use it to play strange, peaceful games. His soldiers include Sergeant Samantha, wishes the general would pay attention to her, and Lieutenant Lyle, who always seems to get into trouble. One day the little general sees a giant snowflake hovering in his garden. Ashamed, he pretends not to see it, but eventually he discovers that everyone in his army has a similar problem. What magical message is the snowflake trying to bring to the general, and to the world?

About the Author: Matthea Harvey is the author of Sad Little Breathing Machine (Graywolf, 2004) and Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form (Alice James Books, 2000). Her third book of poems, Modern Life (Graywolf, 2007) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Cirlcle Award and a New York Times Notable Book. Her first children’s book, The Little General and the Giant Snowflake, illustrated by Elizabeth Zechel, is forthcoming from Tin House Books. Matthea is a contributing editor to jubilat, Meatpaper and BOMB. She teaches poetry at Sarah Lawrence and lives in Brooklyn. You can visit her website here.

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