Guest Post: A Review of What is a Child? by Leah CL

leah-cl-headshotLeah CL’s mother used to say the world could end around her while she was reading and she wouldn’t even notice. She loves children’s lit, particularly middle grade fiction, and is sure she’ll get around to writing her own…one of these days. Leah has a degree in journalism and a degree in music, so logically she is currently working as a bookseller. She lives in Vancouver but considers herself a Maritimer for life.


A Review of What is a Child? by Beatrice Alemagna


What is a Child? by Beatrice Alemagna

Hardcover, 34 pages

Published September 20, 2016 by Tate

Originally published in 2008 by Topipittori as Che cos’è un bambino?

Source: Kidsbooks

If you might have forgotten what exactly a child is, award-winning Italian author Beatrice Alemagna is here to remind you:

A child has small hands, small feet and small ears, but that does not mean they have small ideas.

Children want to be listened to with eyes wide open.

Perfectly accompanied by larger-than-life mixed-media illustrations, Alemagna’s text – translated by Anna Bennett – lets us gently peek back into childhood. We are shown the little triumphs and trials of a child’s life, like shiny shoes or having braces that sparkle in the sunlight.

What is a Child 1

As a self-identified grown-up, I did wonder a bit how children themselves might interpret this book. It seems so self-reflective and calm compared to the loud hustle and bustle of many of the books I sell.

Then I remembered sitting on the floor of my room at age four or five, poring over the unique and delightfully off-the-wall picture books my parents used to pick up at library sales. As Alemagna points out, children are capable of absorbing concepts we might think were far beyond them.

What is a Child 2

Allemagna’s way of presenting huge philosophical ideas in small, sweet words reminds me both of being a child myself, and of the wonder a child might feel reading this book. Read it through more than once – it gets better each time.

A child is a little person. Right now, to fall asleep, they need kind eyes. And a little night light by the bed.”

Bonus: Beatrice Alemagna talks about her process for writing this book.