In the Small
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In the Small

2.5 2
by Michael Hague, Devon Hague

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When a mysterious cataclysmic event, "the blue flash," causes the population of the earth to shrink in size to six inches tall, suddenly humanity has the tables turned on itself: The very civilization it has created becomes its greatest obstacle to survival. Animals and the environment, which have long suffered under the rule and/or destruction of humans, are

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When a mysterious cataclysmic event, "the blue flash," causes the population of the earth to shrink in size to six inches tall, suddenly humanity has the tables turned on itself: The very civilization it has created becomes its greatest obstacle to survival. Animals and the environment, which have long suffered under the rule and/or destruction of humans, are now some of their most feared enemies.

Amid the confusion and turmoil, two strong teenagers, 18-year-old Mouse and his younger sister Beat, emerge as the most promising leaders, eventually setting out on a quest to discover the secret that could redeem this strange new world.

Editorial Reviews

Teenager Hieronymus "Mouse" Willow has always been able to see flashes of the future. While interning at his father's office, he sees a big flash but does not understand it. An hour later, a brilliant blue flash envelopes the Earth. Every human is reduced to six inches tall or smaller; nothing else changes. Mouse convinces his father that they must try to get home. The Willow house has a security fence and a nice-sized greenhouse. Meanwhile Beatrix "Beat" Willow, Mouse's younger sister, with the help of her grandfather and mother, sets up a community at home. Mouse and his band travel across the desolate city trying to avoid violent tribes of feral humans and (now) gargantuan animals. They meet a homeless man who heard voices telling him to prepare, and his preparations help Mouse reunite with his family and start a vital community. Award-winning children's book illustrator Hague turns his considerable talents to the task of creating a fantasy world in a graphic novel with mixed results. The artwork, which will be full color in the final edition, will no doubt be beautiful. Hague attributes his main influence to Prince Valiant comics, and it shows in the elaborately detailed panels. But the characters adapt too quickly to the change and often speak more like robots than people. The story is hurried along by intrusive narration in text boxes (perhaps another influence of Valiant). The final two panels hint at a sequel or series, so the hurry was likely unnecessary. Reviewer: Timothy Capehart
Children's Literature - Kathie M. Josephs
When I first started reading this book, I was afraid it might have too much gloom and darkness, but as I read I was fascinated with the way the author suggests the events that will end the world. After a mysterious light covers the earth, the world as people knew it changes forever. Everything is still as it was except humans are only six inches tall. All else in nature remains the same size so something as ordinary as an ant becomes a deadly adversary. People get lost in their own back yards because the grass is now a jungle. This is the story of a teenage brother and sister who accept the fact that this evil force can be overcome. They lead others that they find on an expedition encountering many perils along the way. This group eventually meets up with another group hiding in a place called Willow House. The ultimate goal is for all of them to reach the museum where there are miniature models they can use to improve their odds against the evils that follow them. The model tools are now the size they need. A steam engine they find starts producing power that can support a greenhouse and is able to give them the hope for survival taht they so desperately need. They now must decide what stays and what goes with them. The last page is very thought provoking. At the top is a greenhouse filled with one small light and at the bottom is death and evil. Will the food growing in the greenhouse be taken over by evil and feed it over the winter until it is able to hunt again? This is actually a well written graphic novel. The ending makes the reader think and discuss the issues raised with friends. The illustrations are excellent. While, this story is dark, the author hints that good willeventually beat evil. Reviewer: Kathie M. Josephs
Judith A. Hayn
The illustrator Michael Hague creates his debut graphic novel based on the Gaia theory that posits that living organisms will adapt the nature of their environment in order to make the environment more suitable for life. A mysterious blue flash hits New York City and reduces the human inhabitants to one-twelfth their size. Mouse Willow foresees the catastrophe and leads city dwellers in a ragtag citizens' army to escape the chaos through the tunnels. Meanwhile, his sister Beatrice at the family home creates her own ecosystem within the walled perimeter. As Mouse approaches, she leaves safety to comb the dangerous streets to seek others caught in the upheaval. Mouse and his survivors find pharmacy and toy store supplies in an abandoned mall as they acquire necessities to carry on toward sanctuary. Unknown to each other, both teens head for the same source for miniataure tools, inventions, and other equipment to make living "in the small" feasible. Filled with supernatural horror, blood-curdling tension, and brilliant artwork, the novel embodies hopefulness with a hint of more disaster to come. Reviewer: Judith A. Hayn
School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up -In this noted illustratora's graphic-novel debut, humanity suddenly finds itself at the bottom of the food chain. With a flash of mysterious blue light, each person on Earth is miniaturized to no more than six inches tall. Everyday objects and former household pets become obstacles and predators in this new life. From the chaos, a teenage boy and his sister emerge as leaders. As they try to reunite and establish a safe haven, there are some violent images. Lush artwork, action, and suspense draw readers past the sometimes-clunky narration and dialogue, and a cliff-hanger ending suggests a possible sequel. Recommend this one to graphic novel fans looking for something different from classic superheroes and manga.-Beth Gallego, Los Angeles Public Library, North Hollywood

Kirkus Reviews
Vibrant art is incongruously juxtaposed against a poorly executed story line. After a mysterious blue flash shrinks the human race to 1/12 its original size, siblings Mouse and Beat must learn to live in an increasingly perilous new world. While the human race has been affected, animals have not, so now everything from common garter snakes to housecats presents itself as a deadly enemy. A promising concept, this graphic novel quickly loses its stride with histrionic dialogue (as Beat sees a corpse being devoured by ants she melodramatically cries "I'm sorry . . . I need to be stronger. I need to get used to things like this..."). Furthermore, the oddly formed plot takes too many liberties and fails its reader by setting haphazard boundaries in the creation of its world. Speeding along with a sci-fi-tinged man-vs.-nature theme, the text veers way off-course in the conclusion with an abrupt introduction of supernatural elements. This extremely anomalous ending offers only the vaguest of hints toward further explanation, possibly in a sequel, and will leave readers scratching their heads, if not thoroughly disgusted. (Science fiction/graphic novel. YA)

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Product Details

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
7.00(w) x 10.37(h) x 0.37(d)
Age Range:
12 - 18 Years

Meet the Author

Michael Hague is one of America's most respected illustrators, well-known for his popular series of children's classics which includes such favorites as The Wind in the Willows, The Velveteen Rabbit, Mother Goose, The Secret Garden and Peter Pan. He achieved further widespread recognition by illustrating William Bennett's bestselling Children's Book of Virtues.

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2.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
The premise of IN THE SMALL is fairly simple. Suddenly, a blue light washes over the entire earth and all of humanity is reduced to one-sixth of its original size. Nothing but humans are affected, and those who do survive the initial transformation are left to deal with the chaos of a world built for people too big. Suddenly, even the smallest animals and the simplest natural phenomena can cause great danger.

The story revolves around a brother and sister, Mouse and Beatrix (Beat for short), who together gather up groups of survivors and marshal them to create a new society. Beat is at home with her mother and grandfather when the transformation occurs, and the three of them begin to turn their house into a sustainable community, inviting neighbors and strangers alike to share the space with them.

Mouse is in the city working at his father's business when the transformation occurs. He has a talent for seeing things before they happen, or at least sensing them, something that his father has never understood. But even his father cannot deny the accuracy of the premonition that hits Mouse an hour before the transformation, and afterwards, Mouse becomes the natural leader of a group of people who make a pilgrimage through the city and back to the house that Beat is busy turning into a thriving community.

The one thing that makes this book stand out from all of the other stories of humans suddenly shrunken and at the mercy of nature and the elements is the graphic novel format. Hague's illustrations add to the sense of terror and urgency felt by the characters whose formerly-docile world has quickly turned against them. In addition, his characters present several musings about the cause of this transformation, several of which appear to be environmental in nature. Beat suggests that this is a way of Mother Earth getting back at a species that has abused her for too long.

The cause of the transformation is not decided upon during the course of the graphic novel, and although the main conflict is resolved for the time being, the story's ending opens up a whole new series of questions that a sequel will surely address.