Too Tall Alice by Barbara Worton


ChildrenToo Tall Alice by Barbara WortonReviewed by Molly

Barbara Worton’s Too Tall Alice with whimsical illustrations by Dom Rodi is a dandy book for classroom usage.

Alice is TALL, not T-Rex or Empire State Building tall and not even as tall as her Dad.  Actually Alice is maybe four inches tall than the other eight year old girls at her school.  She is tall enough to cause her to be the only girl to stand in the back row with the boys during their school photo.

Alice wished she was four inches shorter.

Friday at Alice’s house is always neighbors come over for parent card games night and the kids’ kid games night and pizza and chocolates, and chips and run all over the place and when the kids got tired parents marched them home and put them to bed.  Alice marched up the stairs to her room and into her super fluffy Ariel the mermaid bed. Friday was the night when parents made sure their kids were safe asleep and they came back to Alice’s house to play cards until late, late, late.

It was one such night when Alice who was trying hard to be a princess suddenly sat up very straight in her soft fluffy bed and leaned toward the door to listen : don’t worry, don’t worry,  and her father’s voice said she’s going to be tall and thin, a string bean … and a whole bunch more.  And her neighbor said, nothing wrong being tall and thin, look at those supermodels.

Alice cried, she did not want to be a string bean, and she cried and cried and cried.

Too Tall Alice might have been another in appealing “you are special” book offerings. Inspiring text, encouraging storyline, imaginative comicality and delightful, child pleasing graphics send it to a very different place. I like that there were neither platitudes nor stereotypes. Alice is much as any child, concerned about the future, wanting to fit in and worried about being different.

Author Barbara Worton introduces possibilities for Alice, and all readers, to consider; possibilities centered on the taller persons in our society and on others who may or may not need height. Basketball players, Olympic winners and supermodels are often tall while chums and teachers, doctors, movie actors, class presidents, everyday heroes, good friends, run the gamut of tall to short.

Alice cried herself to sleep in the book and began to dream of a place where all the girls were tall, ceilings were tall and doors were tall. Some of the girls were basketball superstars and some were super models and one was even a show girl.  These tall girls called Alice short stuff and helped her see about ten years into the future.  And they helped Alice understand that she would have to find herself but there were so many different wonderful things ahead for a nice willowy girl.  She might be an Olympic gold medalist or a doctor or a teacher or …. And the list went on and on.

When she woke up Alice was ready; she could see herself having a very beautiful day.

Most of the children in my first grade classrooms tend to be about the same size, now and then I found a very petite child, usually a little girl sitting on the rug before me.  Those persons were easier for me to reassure regarding what the future might hold.  I am one of those some people consider height challenged.

But the too tall child, especially if a girl, was the one I had less awareness for how to ease the worry they harbored that they actually were too tall.

When I saw Too Tall Alice on the shelf at the Book Fair held in our school library I knew I had found a useful tool.  Holding up the book for the class to see our TALL first grader read the title and said, “that is a book for me.   I am too tall”.

I read that tale many times that year, and our Alice borrowed it often to take home for evening reading.  I do think it helped her overcome some of the hurdles she was experiencing.  She has grown into a super young lady, still tall, but happy and accepting that we are as we are and while nothing we do is really going to change how tall or short or whatever our physical self may be; we can expect life to hold many opportunities and joy for us all.

Too Tall Alice got lots of reading and lots of going home that first year and during the years following my having a sweet Too Tall in my classroom.

Happy to recommend for the target audience of primary to lower middle grade children, parents of children tall or not, therapists who may have a too tall, or too short child patient.

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