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Every little letter
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Publishers Weekly Review
This smartly executed fable about embracing difference imagines 26 villages--one representing each letter of the Latin alphabet. The villages are divided by walls, and the letters who live within them prefer it that way: "They knew other letters lurked outside. Different letters." Underwood (Outside In) begins with a village of Hs; newcomer Ruiz draws a bustling town square full of H-themed vignettes: a hamburger store, a hat store, and myriad speech balloons featuring the same boring greeting: "H." Secretly, a young lower-case h longs for more and, encountering a small i through a hole in the wall, creates a word: "hi!" Though the adults find out and try to end the socialization, the open-hearted young letters, through paper airplane-sent missives, learn the riches of word-making and set about dismantling walls. Ruiz creates sweet, appealing letters against backgrounds of brightly colored wash. Using letters as characters creates opportunities for pun-making ("the y's finally got some answers"); more importantly, though, it offers a neutral, easy setting to underline how diversity leads to strength. Ages 4--8. Author's agent: Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary. Illustrator's agent: Molly O'Neill, Root Literary. (Aug.)
School Library Journal Review
K-Gr 3--Each letter of the alphabet, personified with a face, is depicted surrounded by a wall in a city where they never intermingle: "The H's had built the walls around their city long ago to protect themselves." That all changes when an intrepid lowercase h finds a gap in the wall and meets a lowercase i. As their hands join, the pair makes "something extraordinary." Color bursts from the following full-page spread with the two letters jumping for joy as a speech bubble features "hi." The H seals up the wall again and as the small h misses her new friend, she sends paper airplane messages over the wall. Soon, an airplane goes astray and lands within another letter's walls and there is much intermingling. There is subtle humor such as the x meeting the o, improving games of tic-tac-toe. When the h looks at the letters d and n upside down, or up, the lowercase letters meet up on top of the walls to form the word together and begin to break down the walls for good. Soon, there is courage, kindness, and then Love.The pen-and-ink drawings feature black outlines and soft organic colors; the letter characters are adorable. VERDICT Unity and division are themes rich for exploration in this story of alphabet letters separated by fear and complacency. It will grow upon children and adults with each reading.--Ramarie Beaver, formerly at Plano P.L., TX
Kirkus Review
An allegory about accepting one another, one letter at a time. In a land where high walls separate each of the 26 letters (seen in the endpapers), life is rather monotonous. The H's live only with other H's and therefore speak just one letter: H. The same is true for the rest of the alphabet, all walled off and safe from one another. Then an intrepid lowercase h discovers a hole in the wall, reaches through, and discovers…a lowercase i! Ecstatic, they greet each other, but their happiness is cut short when the capital letters discover and forbid their friendship. Disheartened, the two friends send letters (in the form of paper airplanes) that soar over many walls, unexpectedly offering new opportunities to x's, b's, y's, and more. Once again the capital letters try to interfere, but the lowercase letters have discovered that the most important words of all--"courage," "kindness," "trust"--are made up of many letters and can break down walls. Expressive, anthropomorphic letters, set in a bright, pastel palette, lend the book a cartoon look and feel that keeps the story lighthearted. Spreads alternate between vignettes and full-page illustrations to keep readers engaged. Even pre-readers will recognize letters set in bold, big shapes, enabling caregivers to incorporate early-literacy lessons into the read-aloud experience. This message of friendship, though oft told, bears repeating, especially for the youngest readers. (Picture book. 3-5) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
For fans of The Word Collector and Be Kind comes a story of words, walls, and widening your world, by New York Times bestselling author Deborah Underwood

Small h has always lived with the other H's in a city surrounded by walls that keep them safe. At least, that's what the big H's say. But one day, a hole in the wall reveals someone new on the other side. When little h and little i meet, they make a small word with big meaning- "hi!" The other H's find out, though. They fill the hole. But it won't be enough to keep these little letters apart--or twenty-four of their newest friends. Every Little Letter shows how even the smallest among us can make a big impact, and how a single act of friendship can inspire whole communities to come together. How do you tear down walls? With words, at first. Then brick by brick.

"Rich for exploration . . . Adorable." --SLJ (starred review)
"This message of friendship . . . bears repeating, especially for the youngest readers." --Kirkus
"Smartly executed . . . Underlines how diversity leads to strength." --Publishers Weekly
"This book goes beyond to incorporate the alphabet and word-learning, as well as the importance of listening to young people." --Shelf Awareness
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