A Big Surprise for Little Card


Written by Charise Mericle Harper, Illustrated by Anna Raff

Candlewick Press, 2016

Little Card lived in a building with all of his card friends. Each card had a special job.

The plot in a nutshell:  A card discovers his purpose.

Little Card is anxiously awaiting news about what his job will be. When the mail brings the letter, he is delighted to learn that he will be a birthday card. He does very well in his birthday card classes and particularly loves singing. But then he learns that his letter got mixed up with Long Card’s and it’s actually Long Card who is the birthday card. Little Card gets delivered to his new job at the library, where a librarian introduces him to a girl named Alex and tells him that he will be her library card. They have a wonderful day together at the library, playing games, sharing a snack and selecting books to read. Little Card makes up a song about the library and sings it (quietly) to Alex. Alex checks out her books and Little Card tells Alex how much fun he had on Library Day. Alex points out that they can come to the library any day and Little Card is overjoyed.

Author Charise Mericle Harper was inspired to write this book after thinking about her two favorite types of cards – library cards and birthday cards.  She even acknowledges the Vancouver Public Library on the acknowledgements page, citing it as the place where she learned to love books. The idea of a bunch of different types of cards living together and seeing their different functions as ‘grown-up jobs’ is an interesting premise and one that it seems some people have difficulty buying into. I think it’s a fun and inventive idea that makes you think about other cards, such as debit cards, insurance cards and Voter Registration cards, and what their lives would be like.

Rainbow of books

The Big Book of Butter – didn’t that win an award?

Anna Raff’s artwork is done in ink washes, pencil, pen and ink drawings, stamps and textures with digital coloring. I love the artwork, especially the rainbow of books, sorted by color, which features a lot of hilarious made-up titles. Little Card is given a lot of personality in spite of being simply a rectangle with a face and I love that his personality is very positive. Although temporarily flustered when he learns about the mix-up, he embraces his new role with cheer and excitement.

And what did we learn?  What I take away from this book is that sometimes, when life doesn’t give you what you wanted, the thing you get turns out to be even better.


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