The small things in life shine brightest as Lisa Thompson returns with an uplifting story of honesty and friendship, inspired by a very special robot.
At school, Anna’s been given a special task to partner up with the new girl Ellie. But it’s not as simple as it sounds.
Ellie can’t come to school because she’s unwell, so she attends class using a robot. Money is tight for Anna’s family, and she can’t really understand why the teacher has picked her to hang out with Ellie. Anna doesn’t have any fun hobbies or interests to talk about – not like Nia and the other girls. She listens enviously to their stories of swimming, street-dance, skiing and horse riding. Next to them she feels so small…
So when the girls are chatting at school one morning and Ellie asks Anna about what she did the previous evening, a little white lie pops out. Homework and the supermarket sound so dull but bowling and and a trip to the new ice cream parlour in town will surely impress Ellie.
Anna feels so much lighter, but soon one lie turns into another and before she knows it, she’s stuck in a tangled web – a fantasy life of ice skating lessons and meals out she wishes she had. When the web starts to fall apart, will she lose Ellie’s friendship forever?
At a time when the global pandemic has stripped back holidays, play dates, shopping trips and extra-curricular activities, the message about appreciating the smaller pleasures of life in this poignant new novella couldn’t be more pertinent.
When the truth is exposed, Ellie is able to show Anna that it’s the little things in life that are most important
“Sometimes it’s those small things that are best, we forget to enjoy them.”
Ellie teaches Anna that reading, baking and crafting are just as worthy pass-times as the more expensive activities the other girls partake in. Anna also learns that Nia’s exciting lifestyle isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and her overly busy schedule leaves her exhausted and unhappy.
There’s so much pressure on children and families to ‘keep up’ with what can feel like an overwhelming array of clubs and activities. Anna felt on the edge of so many conversations because she didn’t have these activities in common with her classmates and I’m sure there are lots of children who can identify with this.
We realise, it was in actual fact Ellie who was chosen to be a support for Anna by wonderfully intuitive class teacher, Miss Burnell. This is such a sensitive depiction of Anna’s struggles and worries and as with all Lisa’s books, help children to understand and empathise with others.
About the author
On The Small Things Lisa says:
“I think that this year, more than ever, many of us have begun to appreciate the small things in our lives. This is what is at the heart of my story – a reminder to take a moment to appreciate that sometimes the little things are enough.”
Lisa was inspired to write the story after after a school visit, where a member of the audience was a robot being controlled by a child who wasn’t able to attend in person. Further research led her to No Isolation,a company which enables children to take part in school and other activities through the use of telepresecence robots that act as the child’s eyes, ears and voice in the classroom.
Lisa Thompson is the acclaimed author of several books for children, including the Carnegie Medal and Branford Boase nominated The Goldfish Boy and the Blue Peter Book Award shortlisted Owen and the Soldier.
Lisa’s other bestselling titles include The Light Jar, The Day I was Erased and The House of Clouds.
To find out more about Lisa’s work, visit Lisa Thompson Author here
The Small Things is published by Barrington Stoke and will be released on 3rd June 2021.
Barrington Stoke are an amazing publisher. Their accessible, novella length titles by top authors tempt me every time. The shorter length make for such a satisfying read – they’re irresistible!
With thanks to Barrington Stoke for sending me an advance copy of Lisa’s book to review.