Enormous Smallness: A Story of E.E. Cummings

Enormous Smallness: A Story of E.E. Cummings


Written by Matthew Burgess
Illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo

A Boston Globe Best Book of 2015

Enormous Smallness is a nonfiction picture book about the poet E.E. cummings. Here E.E.'s life is presented in a way that will make children curious about him and will lead them to play with words and ask plenty of questions as well. Lively and informative, the book also presents some of Cummings's most wonderful poems, integrating them seamlessly into the story to give the reader the music of his voice and a spirited, sensitive introduction to his poetry.

In keeping with the epigraph of the book—"It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are," Matthew Burgess's narrative emphasizes the bravery it takes to follow one's own vision and the encouragement E.E. received to do just that.

ISBN: 978-1-59270-171-1
8.25" (W) x 11.5" (H) • 64 pages • HCJ

Grade Level: 4
Interest Level: 2-6
Lexile Level: 970
Guided Reading Level: R

Add To Cart


A Boston Globe Best Book of 2015
A 2015 Huffington Post Best Picture Book in Biography
A 2016 Notable Children's Books in the English Language Arts
A KBACH/Changing Hands Bookstore Book of the Month Pick
A 2016 Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Book of the Year
Selected by the Great Lakes Great Books Award Committee, A pProgram of the Michigan Reading Association, for the 2016-2017 State-wide Literature Program

"An eminently friendly introduction to both the poet and his spirit—deceptively simple, just like its subject." —STARRED REVIEW, Kirkus Reviews

"An uncommonly delightful picture-book celebration of Cummings's life." —Maria Popova, Brain Pickings

"The title of this book (Enormous Smallness) is perfect. Many of us think of poems as small things, but as much as anyone, E. E. Cummings showed us that even the smallest stanza could hold enormous meaning. Lovingly written (Burgess is himself a poet) and ingeniously illustrated, this book is a treasure for both fans of Cummings, as well as those discovering his poetry for the first time." —The Huffington Post

"Di Giacomo's capricious collages create a lively interplay between pictures and words, and visual motifs such as birds and elephants intermingle with samples of Cummings's work. Burgess delivers a thorough and lovingly crafted homage to a writer whose poems 'were alive with experimentation and surprise.'" —Publishers Weekly

”To illustrate Cummings’ fascinating life one would need an especially creative artist and Kris Di Giacomo does just that, combining a tapestry of words (many of them poems) in appealing settings like a tree house that was heated with a wood stove, the busy streets of New York and Paris and the farmlands of New Hampshire.” —Charles Sutton, Vermont Country Sampler

“This enchanting picture book biography introduces children to the life and work of e.e. cummings, one of America's most innovative poets. […] Written in verse, the text is accessible and lends itself well to read-alouds. The book itself is a work of art, full of thick pages of whimsical, full-spread illustrations in a palette of grays, blues, browns, and greens. Burgess chronicles the poet's childhood and early adulthood, beginning and ending in the Greenwich Village studio where he would spend nearly 40 years of his life. Several child-friendly poems, including ‘who are you, little i’ and ‘in Just-,’ are interwoven into the text (and appended). […] A unique and inspiring introduction.” —Barbara Auerbach, New York City Public Schools, School Library Journal

"WOW. Dare I say I was carried away by the awesomeness of enormous SMALLNESS? It has been a while since I have seen such a perfect pairing of story and art. It will give me great pleasure to put it into the hands of small (and tall) and introduce another generation to the genius of e. e. cummings." —Mona, Jabberwocky Book Store (Fredericksburg, VA)

"It's important to get your kid to sleep, but a good bedtime reading does a lot more—it can inspire them in ways that will serve them well later on. That's the message of Enormous Smallness, a new picture book biography of the poet E.E. Cummings." —Fatherly

"A fabulous biographical picture book, this book is a great introduction to E.E. Cummings and his work." —Tasha Saecker, Waking Brain Cells

"The author includes major life events and poems, always circling back to a playfulness born in the poet's childhood and carried through his entire life, nurtured by parents and teachers. What makes this such a successful children's book is the author and artist's focus on Cummings's ability to channel and hold onto the inventiveness of childhood." —Jennifer M. Brown, Shelf Awareness

"…it's beautiful. Each page is a collage of words and visual elements that work in the manner of a Cummings poem. Letters fall from his mouth during graduation, and the more he writes, the more letters make up parts of the background colors of the pages." —Unshelved

"My second graders, with no prompting, absolutely LOVED Enormous Smallness, a perfect picture book biography of the great e.e. cummings by Matthew Burgess. (Without invitation, they applauded!) They were silent and receptive the whole way through (that means they were with me. It was as though they realized they can be poets! At least that's what I hope.)" —Bri Johnson, New York City Librarian

"It's a book that will be hugely encouraging to young children who want to write, be poets, or just do things a little differently from the norm." —Whitney Morton Woodcock, The Portland Book Review

"This is a book that will satisfy both the adults who read it to children, and the children who are lucky enough to hear it." —The San Francisco Book Review


Take Away the A
Trunk to Trunklet
This is a Poem that Heals Fish
Beastly Verse