on 1 March 2010
Mr Small is Hargreaves' `Boys From The Blackstuff'. Here he adopts a more naturalistic style, putting aside explicit exposition of academic schools of thought along with his usual moral and philosophical preoccupations. In a manner that is almost kitchen sink, we follow the working class everyman - quite literally the small man - as he searches for a job in 70s Britain. Thematically Hargreaves shows his vision, as he presages the mass unemployment that was to come in the 1980s.
Mr Small tries a succession of jobs for which he is woefully mismatched - they are all manifestly too big for him. He lacks the basic knowledge and skills to hold down any of the occupations he attempts. Does Hargreaves here break from his usual social conservatism with a damning indictment of an education system that is not adequately preparing the workforce for increasingly skilled and mechanized labour? And in this does he further express his frustration at how his own fictional potentialities have been manacled and constrained by this state of affairs?
For indeed, Hargreaves himself seems to give up on Mr Small - in a wry narrative flourish of course. Beneath the surface positivity of the ending, we at best encounter stoicism, with a definite undercurrent of fatalistic dread at what the very near future holds. The shadow of the impending Thatcher years is already falling across the world of the Mr Men. If Hargreaves has deprived him of revolutionary socialism in Mr Uppity - or even the more modest protection of the centre-left - there is nothing Mr Small can do but passively accept his situation. Mr Robertson, a literary personification of statutory intervention, is ultimately powerless to help him. The collective sentiment of the workers - embodied by a friendly postman - offers nothing practical, just sympathy. The only job that Mr Small proves fit to do is recount his story to the author. (Contrast this with the earlier Mr Bump, who successfully finds a job compatible with his idiosyncrasies as a character.)
Hargreaves, with characteristic genius, holds up his hands and laments his own impotence. But if Mr Small cannot be saved, at least he has been given a voice.
on 19 March 2011
I quite liked it. I thought that some of the metaphysical imagery was particularly effective. And interesting rhythmic devices, too, which served to counterpoint the surrealism of the underlying metaphor of Mr Hargreaves' humanity and compassionate soul, which contrived through the medium of the verse structure to sublimate this, transcend that and come to terms with the fundamental dichotomies of the other. And one is left with a profound and vivid insight into Mister Small or whatever it was the story was about.
Researchers constantly find that reading to children is valuable in a variety of ways, not least of which are instilling a love of reading and improved reading skills. With better parent-child bonding from reading, your child will also be more emotionally secure and able to relate better to others. Intellectual performance will expand as well. Spending time together watching television fails as a substitute.
To help other parents apply this advice, as a parent of four I consulted an expert, our youngest child, and asked her to share with me her favorite books that were read to her as a young child. Mr. Small was one of her picks.
My daughter was very small when she was younger, so this book interested her. What exactly did it mean to be small?
Mr. Small is so small that he makes even the smallest child seem like a giant. He is the size of a pin, and lives in a small house under a daisy in Mr. Robinson's garden. A large meal for him is half a pea, one crumb, and a drop of lemonade.
One day, he decided he wanted a job. So he went to see Mr. Robinson. That was difficult because he was so small. When he knocked on the door, Mr. Robinson did not hear him. And Mr. Small could not reach the doorbell. Luckily, the postman came along and rang the doorbell for him. Mr. Robinson almost didn't notice Mr. Small after opening the door.
Mr. Robinson was glad to help Mr. Small find a job, but things didn't work out well at first. Mr. Small fell into the mustard jars while filling them. He kept falling into candy jars while selling candy. He kept getting shut in match boxes while packing them with matches.
Finally, Mr. Robinson found just the right job for Mr. Small . . . and you'll have to read the book to find out what it was. But you'll like the answer.
Overcome your misconceptions about what a small person can do well with this fascinating, imaginative story.
on 6 July 2015
As small as a pin, Mr. Small wants to get a job but what can he do? He decides to go visit his neighbour, Mr. Robinson, to seek his advice but even that trip takes him a long while and how on earth is going to ring the doorbell? Mr. Robinson has many connections. The first job he helps Mr. Small get is in a restaurant filling up the mustard. Oh dear, poor Mr. Small keeps falling in! Maybe he can work in a candy store? Pack matches? Sort eggs? None of these jobs work but there is one that does! What is it? You'll have to read the book to find out!
FAB book! Keep persevering and you will succeed!