I am super excited to be a part of Multicultural Children's Book Day for the second year! Communicating with author Eugenia Chu on he...

'Sissy Goes Tiny' Book Review - Multicultural Children's Book Day


I am super excited to be a part of Multicultural Children's Book Day for the second year! Communicating with author Eugenia Chu on her book "Brandon Makes Jiao Zi" for last year's MCBD was just the start of so many more author collaborations and friendships! Not to mention a lot of awesome new books to review and share. 

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Anyway, moving on to this year's books! The first book I received to review for this year's MCBD celebration was "Sissy Goes Tiny" by Rebecca Flansburg, BA Norgard, and Penny Weber. Sissy loves her family, her house, her big comfy bed, her yard, and her life. Everything is perfect! But then...

Sissy's parents decide that they're going to sell their big perfect house and yard and move into a tiny house! And the tiny house will be on wheels, so they can stay in one place for a while and then move on and explore somewhere new. Her parents are excited, but Sissy is NOT sure about this. What about her big comfy bed and her toys and her favorite trees? Can she leave all of them behind?

With the help of her parents and some friends who are already living tiny, Sissy discovers that it is ok to pass on things that are not really necessary to others and keep or repurpose those things that have a special place in her heart. The more she prepares for the transition, the more she gets excited about the adventure that lies ahead.

By the end of the story, Sissy is more than ready to explore the world in her cute tiny house!

This book is inspired by co-author BA Norrgard's decision to leave her job as a paralegal, build a tiny house, and head out to see the country while sharing her experiences. Sissy is named after Norrgard's tiny house - Sisu, which means having grit, determination, and perseverance in the face of adversity in Finnish. Fun fact - the dragon in Disney's Raya and the Last Dragon is also named Sisu!

Although in the story, Sissy ends up having a very positive experience shifting from big house to tiny house living, the children I shared this book with were definitely not eager for the opportunity to live tiny.

Lil C and Squidgy, ages 9 and 6: We are NEVER doing that!

Chloe, age 11: Promise me we're never moving to a tiny house!

After the story, I asked for their reactions and was not entirely prepared for the responses. We started out pretty normal:

Chloe: Why did the parents choose to move tiny? It's sad that she had to get rid of so many toys. I'm glad that she could still keep her teddy bear.

And then it took a turn:

Lil C: I like the house on wheels. I want a big big house with like 1000 wheels on it to hold it up.
Squidgy: Yes, that goes to outer space!
Lil C: Yes, a rocket house! That we don't have to attach a car to, that has a steering wheel.
Squidgy: And has the biggest TV!
Lil C: There's one closet in each bedroom with a screen and when you say what kind of outfit you want, it'll pop out of the closet and into your face! And it has a sewing machine inside of it! And when you take a shower, it has an automatic scrubbing soap washing thing with robot arms so you just stand there and it does everything for you.
Squidgy: And when you take a bath, it has an automatic soup pourer and it stops when it's almost at the tippy top. And you can stay in the bath as long as you want, even if your mom says to get out.
Lil C: And it has 4 bathtubs so we can all take baths separately.
Squidgy: Then there will be something sticking out with a keyboard and you just have to type in your name and it'll open up a secret candy stash.

Then they ran off to draw their giant dream house on wheels.

.........somehow talk of a tiny house on wheels quickly evolved into discussions of a futuristic robotic mobile dream mansion...it seems the lesson of "less is more" flew over their heads and into space with their rocket house...

I tried to bring them back. So, why wouldn't you want a tiny house? Wouldn't it be cool to get to travel around in your house?

Squidgy: Because then I won't be able to snuggle with my bigger than me teddy bear (fyi, we do have a giant Pooh bear and a giant polar bear - which are no longer bigger than him - but both kids only sleep with smaller stuffed animals). I would be sad to get rid of my toys.

Lil C: We wouldn't have as much space and wouldn't be able to have animals, except fish. No dog or guinea pigs or rats or cats. (She does have a valid point) I wouldn't like getting rid of my toys, I like all of my toys. I would like to move around and see more of the country, but only if it was in a huge house. 

Chloe: I would try life in a small house for one day only, because I love my big house.

So, it was obvious these kids weren't convinced to go tiny. But that's ok because honestly, I don't want to go tiny either! My family is the most important thing to me and wherever they are IS home, even if it were in a tiny house. But while travelling sounds exciting and fun, my being more introverted than not makes exploring new places all the time sound mentally and emotionally exhausting! Driving around camping as a kid was fun but I really needed to come home and recharge! Plus, I love cooking and hosting small dinner parties, so working in a tiny kitchen with no space to entertain would not be my ideal situation. Also we wouldn't be happy being far from family and close friends for an extended period of time - if this pandemic has taught us anything, it's that video calls are wonderful, but they definitely don't replace hanging out in person. What we might one day trade our big house for is a smaller house with more acreage and an RV for exploring!

Even though "Sissy Goes Tiny" didn't convince any of us to convert to tiny living, I don't think that was the purpose of the story. I think its message lies more in stressing the importance of experiences over things. Experiences are what make memories! However, things can also create experiences! We may have an overly extensive Nerf gun collection, but we've made lots of happy memories having family Nerf wars. We also love playing board and card games, building Lego, playing video games, and cooking and baking together. So for us, any things we have that are used for those family activities are definitely staying!

On the other hand, I do often get overwhelmed with our "stuff." It just builds up so easily! I get something that I need, but once it doesn't fill an immediate need anymore, should I get rid of it or hold onto it in case I need it again? There are definitely things that we use in phases and I don't want to have to get them again. We also have a very large toy collection that has grown exponentially from birthday and holidays gifts. My kids are like me and get emotionally attached to things and so they tend to be very hesitant to part with toys. I don't want to force them to get rid of things - I think that'll just lead to bitterness. Plus there's that emotional part of me that thinks, once the toys are gone their childhood will be over and I'm not in a rush to get there! However, I was encouraged by "Sissy Goes Tiny" to help them figure out which toys they really love playing with because those are the ones that will provide them with happy experiences and lasting memories. 

So here's my experiment - feel free to try it out in your own home after reading "Sissy Goes Tiny" if your kids are also resistant to passing on toys, purging, and downsizing. If not, feel free to do a big purge even if you don't plan on moving - I'm sure it'll make your house feel cleaner, roomier, and less cluttered!

1. Jot down 1-5 toys that can be put on a family toy list, things the whole family may use. For us it would be Nerf guns, Lego blocks, and video games. If you homeschool as well, toys you use often for learning should go on this list too (for us this would be animal figures and building toys like blocks and Tinker toys).

2. Have each child look through all their toys and write down their 5 favorites (these can be individual toys or categories like Barbie dolls and pretend kitchen toys).

3. Put ALL the toys not on any list into storage (attic, basement, garage, closets...I'm kind of assuming that if you have NO place in your house for extra toy storage, you probably also don't have an excessively large toy collection). This is the start of the move to storage, there are still more toys...

4. Try playing only with what's left for one week. At the end of the week see how it went. Did they play more or longer with fewer toys out? Did they really like the toys they chose or did they realize there are other toys that promote more meaningful lasting play? Was it easier to find things and clean up? 

Their rooms don't look much less cluttered yet, but that's because random things are still scattered around. Once I pull everything out and can organize what's left nicely onto shelves and in drawers, it should look neat and tidy and inviting to play with! I will say though, the first day we started this experiment they pulled out a few of their "keep" toys and were playing nicely for a good amount of time while I started packing stuff away.

My hope is that this experiment will help the kids discover which toys they really enjoy playing with and which ones they're ready to pass on. Or maybe by focusing on a few toys at a time, it'll just reignite their imaginations and help them find new ways to play with their toys. Either way, I'm hoping that I can stick with keeping most of the toys in storage and rotating toys in and out to keep things kind of new and exciting but easy to clean up. I'll keep you posted on the results of our experiment! And if you try this in your house, please share your results!

Check out my other MCBD 2022 book review: "Juana and Lucas: Muchos Changes"

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2022 (1/28/22) is in its 9th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those books into the hands of young readers and educators.

MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves. Read about our Mission & History HERE.

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Join us on Friday, Jan 29, 2021, at 9 pm EST for the 8th annual Multicultural Children's Book Day Twitter Party! Be sure and follow MCBD and Make A Way Media on Twitter!

This epically fun and fast-paced hour includes multicultural book discussions, addressing timely issues, diverse book recommendations, & reading ideas.

We will be giving away an 8-Book Bundle every 5 minutes plus Bonus Prizes as well! *** US and Global participants welcome. **

Follow the hashtag #ReadYourWorld to join the conversation, connect with like-minded parts, authors, publishers, educators, organizations, and librarians. See you all very soon on Twitter!

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1 comment:

  1. Great review! I love how you used this book to really spark conversations and experiment with the ideas in the book. Thank you again for participating in Multicultural Children's Book Day!