Phillis Gershator







About me



Tiny jacket


illustrated by Lynne Cravath

Cavenish, 1999

* Recommended read-alouds, Children's Books

From the book jacket:
Have you ever heard the saying “opposites attract?” Well, that’s just what happened when two larger-than-life characters met on a green and rocky island in the West Indies.
     Miss Tiny was pretty and friendly. She also had a booming voice, was big and strong, and could do what men do, and do it better and faster. She was always ready to lend a helping hand. (You’d think that the men she helped would be grateful and want to kiss her on her soft brown cheek. But no, the men said, “Who likes a woman stronger than man? Make him look weak, weak, weak, that’s what.”)
     Then Mr. Bigman came to the island. He was skinny and weak and a little deaf....when Miss Tiny helped Mr. Bigman build his house he was so grateful he gave her a big hug and kiss.... Before long they were married and living in the house by the shore.
      One day, Tiny announced that a baby was coming. A hurricane was coming, too. Although Tiny had blown other storms back to sea with her big, deep breath, she was no match for a 200 mile and hour wind!
     But Tiny did not give up easily!
     Vibrantly-colored pictures illuminate Tiny’s radiant spirit and determination in this off-beat Caribbean tale of true love.

A little about the book:
When the artist, Lynne Avril (formerly Cravath), visited St. Thomas, which is the setting for this story, she found her Bigman on the ferry to St. John. She followed him around, sketching madly. As for the coconut tart on page 21, that’s the very same coconut tart we ate together for dessert.
     This story is a tall tale because in a big hurricane nobody, not even a really strong woman like Tiny, can keep a roof from blowing away, especially if the beams go flying--which is what happened to our house when hurricanes blew through the Virgin Islands in 1989 and again in 1995.

     Here is the recipe for the hibiscus tea Mr. Bigman likes to  serve with his coconut tart:

Pick a handful of red hibiscus flowers and steep them in boiling water. Strain to remove the flowers and any stray ants. The liquid will be dark and cloudy. Add fresh squeezed lime juice, and, like magic, the tea will turn clear and pink. Sweeten to taste and serve hot or cold.

From the reviews:

“This is an inventive, appealing love story of oppposites attracting that also celebrates differences as gifts. Gershator’s gently lilting prose has the feel of patois, and Cravath’s illustrations are an exuberant mix of bright colors, expressive characters, playfully incorporated text, and a lively portrayal of Caribbean life. Independent, spirited Tiny is a wonderful character who pursues what she is good at and enjoys, and finds that for every heart, there is a home.” Booklist

“The writing has panache and the illustrations verve....” Hornbook

“...This sunny, funny tall tale, which pokes gentle fun at gender stereotypes, has a great Caribbean-tinged beat. The colorful illustrations are energetic and evoke the tropical island setting.”

“A modern tall tale....The bright illustrations, large trim size, and funny story make the tale ideal for story times. An enjoyable yarn.” School Library Journal

“Gershator’s text has a boisterous tone that is nearly audible. And in a playful, never preachy turn, Tiny and Bigman’s union blasts the gender stereotypes on the island (and in society in general)....With her bold and cheery watercolors, streaked in bright and fruity hues, Cravath instantly whisks readers to the Caribbean.” Publishers Weekly