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The Tale of the Tiny Man

The Tale of the Tiny Man

Published: 1 Feb 2022

Hardback, 32 pages

Recommended for age 5+ and 7+

By Barbro Lindgren

Illustrated by Eva Eriksson

Published by Gecko Press

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There was once a tiny man. One day, at the first sign of Spring, he decided to pin a note to a tree that said FRIEND WANTED. Then he sat down on the step to wait.

After ten days, he woke to find a cold nose in his hand. Beside him was a big dog with a beautiful curve in its tail. The tiny man had made a friend at last.

They play and walk and laugh every day. But then the girl in the polka dot dress comes to the step. The little man watches as the dog put his soft muzzle into the girl's hand and worries that he has lost his only friend.

A touching picture book that explores learning how to make and share friends, feelings of being left out and discovering group dynamics. Packed full of emotion, this hardback picture book also teaches young children about self-esteem and empathy. A perfect story to read aloud with preschoolers or for young children just starting out at reading by themselves.

A much-loved classic children's story in Sweden, this celebratory edition features new illustrations from Eva Eriksson, illustrator of the My Happy Life series. It has also been made into a successful theatre show.

Barbro Lindgren is a pioneering children's author from Sweden. She has won many international awards, including the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award.

Eva Eriksson is one of the best-loved illustrators in Sweden, whose awards include the Astrid Lindgren prize and the August award.

Tagged dogs , friendship , kindness and self-belief

The Kindness pack

Easy purchase - add our curated pack to your basket with one click

An easy-purchase topic  pack of children's books to support the topic of Kindness. You can purchase individual titles or the collection.

  • The Queen on Our Corner
  • The Perfect Shelter
  • The Invisible
  • The Tale of the Tiny Man
  • I Walk With Vanessa
  • The Smile Shop
  • Last Stop on Market Street
  • The Soup Movement
  • Human Kindness
  • Hugo
  • The Suitcase
  • The Cat Man of Aleppo
  • The New Girl
  • Kindness Grows
  • Bird House
  • Do Something for Someone Else
  • Stories of Peace and Kindness : For a Better World
  • The Trouble with Earth
  • One Tiny Dot
  • Forgotten Fairy Tales of Kindness and Courage
  • Pass It On
  • New In Town
  • The Neighbourhood Surprise
  • The Good Guys 50 Heroes Who Changed the World with Kindness
  • The House Full of Stuff
  • Loving Kindness
  • Home for Grace
  • Footpath Flowers

Reviewed by Ann Alston

Although this is a story I read for the first time this week, there is something about it that reminds me of the books from my own childhood. When I turned to the publication details it made perfect sense that this was first written in 1979. Barbro Lindgren is a hugely popular and influential Swedish children’s author who often collaborates with the distinctive illustrator Eva Eriksson, together they are something of a dream team as this gentle and sensitive book demonstrates. Gecko Press’ new edition, translated by Julia Marshall, is a beautiful addition to the collection of children’s books translated into English.

The story follows the plight of the outsider as the ‘the tiny man’ pins a note to a tree saying, ‘FRIEND WANTED’ and waits for ten lonely days and nights. The illustration of the suited man sat on the doorstep of his detached house pulls on the heartstrings as our eye is drawn to the windows, which without friendship and company, remain dark. People, the text tells us, are quick to form dismissive judgements ‘Even though he was kind, no one cared for him much’ adding that they thought ‘his hat was ugly’ but animals, it seems, have bigger, kinder hearts, and happiness appears in the form of ‘a big dog with a beautiful curve in his tail’ who ‘looked at him kindly and then laid its heavy head on his shoulder’.

There’s plenty text here and as such this is certainly one to read aloud. The prose has a delicate poetry that you find in the most satisfying of picture books. Readers follow the new friendship through the seasons noting that as the ‘days passed’ the ‘trees grew greener and greener’.  The friends take note of nature, eat together and even share a room. There is some darkness, that children are bound to empathise with, when a little girl also makes friends with the dog and the tiny man’s ‘chest tightened’, but the jealousy and fear of losing his friend are all finally resolved. The closing image of the three sat arm in arm (or paw as it turns out) on the doorstep forms the perfect antidote to the earlier image of the lonely man.

For me this would make a perfect story to read aloud, all is resolved and yet readers are left to consider the plight of those who are left out, the beauty of friendship, and to empathise with those around them.

Ann Alston has worked as a lecturer/senior lecturer in children's literature at the University of the West of England, Bristol for over 15 years. She published her book on Family in English Children's Literature in 2008, and has co-edited with Cathy Butler, collections of critical essays on Children's Literature in the Long Nineteenth Century (2019) and Roald Dahl (2012). Ann is interested in critical literacy, works with colleagues in the Education department, and often goes into the classroom to discuss children's literature.

The Dogs set

A collection of children;s books featuring dogs.
  • 100 Dogs

    3+ 5+

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    £5.17
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    £5.17
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    RRP £6.99
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  • Dogs in Disguise

    3+ 5+

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    £5.17
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    £5.17
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    RRP £6.99
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  • That Dog!
    That Dog!

    3+ 5+

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    £5.17
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    £5.17
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    RRP £6.99
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  • Wigglesbottom Primary: Super Dog!
    Wigglesbottom Primary: Super Dog!

    5+ 7+

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    £5.17
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    £5.17
    Regular price
    RRP £6.99
    Unit price
    per 
  • D-Day Dog
    D-Day Dog

    9+ 11+

    Regular price
    £5.17
    Sale price
    £5.17
    Regular price
    RRP £6.99
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The empathy set

A collection of children;s books that promote empathy.

The kindness set

A set of books with the theme Kindness.