A classic picture book from Sweden with a very happy ending about feeling lonely and finding friends. It is possible, after all, to have more than one friend!
There was once a tiny man. One day, at the first sign of Spring, he decided to pin a note to a tree that said FRIEND WANTED. Then he sat down on the step to wait.
After ten days, he woke to find a cold nose in his hand. Beside him was a big dog with a beautiful curve in its tail. The tiny man had made a friend at last.
They play and walk and laugh every day. But then the girl in the polka dot dress comes to the step. The little man watches as the dog put his soft muzzle into the girl’s hand and worries that he has lost his only friend.
A touching picture book that explores learning how to make and share friends, feelings of being left out and discovering group dynamics. Packed full of emotion, this hardback picture book also teaches young children about self-esteem and empathy. A perfect story to read aloud with preschoolers or for young children just starting out at reading by themself.
A much-loved classic children’s story in Sweden, this celebratory edition features new illustrations from Eva Eriksson, illustrator of the My Happy Life series. It has also been made into a successful theatre show.
Barbro Lindgren is a pioneering children’s author from Sweden. She has won many international awards, including the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award.
Eva Eriksson is one of the best-loved illustrators in Sweden, whose awards include the Astrid Lindgren prize and the August award.
Other books by Barbro Lindgren
Other books illustrated by Eva Eriksson
My Happy Life series
When Dad Showed Me the Universe
Praise for The Tale of the Tiny Man
“Barbro Lindgren touches on the very human need to connect showing a longing that is heartbreaking. Her timeless text combines effortlessly with the moody illustrations by Eva Ericksson, capturing the yearning and melancholy of a tiny man with a big heart.” The Children’s Book Council of Australia
"This book truly does deserve its 'classic' status." Betsy Bird, School Library Journal
"Audiences will also be 'pleased as punch' over the man’s turn in fortunes." Foreword Reviews
"A sensitive, atmospheric story depicting the fragility and rewards of friendship." Kirkus Reviews
"Thought-provoking and evocative with atmospheric illustrations, this is a memorable picture book story of friendship, understanding and acceptance that will resonate with younger readers." School Reading List
“can serve as a good starting point for a discussion with children about emotions relating to exclusion or inclusion.” Five Books, Best Kids Books for 2022
“And o! The drama! The pathos! The desolation! The joy! It’s ALL THE FEELINGS. And if the children in your life ask you to read it to them over and over and then some more, don’t be surprised." Seven Impossible Things
Praise for Soda Pop
"There’s a sublime sort of craziness to it that catches me unawares every time. Neither Soda Pop nor Mazarin nor Dartanyong speaks a single word of sense, but they will be my friends for life." —Astrid Lindgren, author of Pippi Longstocking
Praise for My Happy Life series
“If only all early chapter books were this beautifully conceived.”—The New York Times
Praise for When Dad Showed Me The Universe
“Gentle humour pervades this father-son tale in the nicest way.”—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review, Best International Picture Books of 2015
The Tale of the Tiny Man is a classic story written by well-known Swedish author Barbro Lindgren. It was originally called The Story of the Little Old Man and was first published in 1992. The story focuses on a tiny man who longs for a friend. He is treated very badly by the local townspeople who thought he was too small and possibly a bit slow. They also thought his hat was ugly. The tiny man cried alone in his house and wondered why no one liked him as he was always kind to those he met. He decides to place a sign on a tree saying FRIEND WANTED. He waits and waits for ten days but no one responds. He is so despondent, but fortunately a stray dog makes a surprise visit and over the next few days the tiny man provides it with treats when it appears each day at his house. Eventually the dog moves into his home and shares the tiny man’s life. The dog is protective of the tiny man and stands up to the town bullies. When a happy child strikes up a friendship with the dog, the tiny man withdraws into himself and goes away leaving them both. He wanders sadly through the forest for days and eventually returns to find the dog and the girl waiting. This beautiful story is one in which many emotions are brought to the surface. Friendships need to be navigated and sharing this book with children as a read aloud will provide the perfect opportunity to discuss a range of friendship issues that can arise.
This strange moving tale is a poignant ode to fidelity and the simplicity of true friendship. Its appeal relies on powerfully defined characters, the main one being a tiny man in lieu of a child which means adults sharing this story with younger readers will enjoy its relatability as much as children. The tiny man is a petite loner who is unspeakably lonely. His solitude is treated with distain and intolerance by other people. Even mean-hearted dogs growl at him. He has no one and thus feels like no one. Others’ inexplicable acts of indifference and cruelty bewilder and sadden him; he is a kind man after all and wants nothing more than a friend. So one day, he advertises for one via a note pinned to a tree. Then he waits. And waits. And waits. Finally a friend arrives but they are not who he expects. This new companion has a cold nose and a delightful sense of play. His appetite is voracious and he is quick to take advantage of the tiny man’s hospitality and warm bedroom yet as the days lengthen and the seasons change, this new friend and the tiny man find great joy and satisfaction in each other’s presence. Their bond becomes such that former bullies no longer dare to hound or laugh at the tiny man for fear of his new ally’s fierce loyalty. Days trickle along into spring unrushed and relished until one day a child comes along and the delicate balance of friendship tilts ever so slightly. The tiny man is unable to reconcile this shift with his feelings of rejection and is once again filled with sorrow and hurt. Will he be able to rekindle the warmth of friendship and find room in his heart for more than one friend? This affecting English translation of Barbro Lindgren’s original 1979 tale reflects the author’s ability to convey intense emotion under the cover of gentle comedy. Feelings of alienation and wretched desolation affect many of us at some point in our lives. Even the very young know what rejection and unfriendliness feels like. Lindgren pins these emotions firmly down on every page then builds a tender fetching story around them. The Tale of the The Tiny Man is heartfelt without cloying sentimentality. Eva Eriksson’s subdue illustrations lift and support the narrative with earnest simplicity. I love their contribution to this gorgeous tale which passes as both an illustrated junior fiction for confident readers or a sumptuous picture book for older readers.
As the tiny man learns, there is a friend out there for everyone, you just need to find the right one. And don’t be afraid to share that friend either, the best ones will have more than enough friendship to go around.
A Word About Books
The Tale of the Tiny Man is a beautifully written Swedish picture book that pulls at the heartstrings. At the centre of the story is a man who longs for friendship and connection. While the story is sad it is also hopeful as it draws the reader in, rallying for the man in his quest to find companionship. Highlighting the uniqueness of human beings in all their abilities, it is a story that compels us to consider the vulnerable in our communities.With central themes of loneliness, friendship and hope, young readers can relate as they embark on new adventures at school or in the world. Making friends can be one of the hardest things for young children but can be so fulfilling when it happens.Barbro Lindgren touches on the very human need to connect showing a longing that is heartbreaking. Her timeless text combines effortlessly with the moody illustrations by Eva Ericksson, capturing the yearning and melancholy of a tiny man with a big heart.Parents, teachers, and librarians will find the reading experience utterly rewarding with plenty of opportunity to discuss individuality and the beauty of friendship and connection.A classic story with a happy ending, The Tale of the Tiny Man celebrates our differences and our unique ability to connect with others.
And o! The drama! The pathos! The desolation! The joy! It’s ALL THE FEELINGS. And if the children in your life ask you to read it to them over and over and then some more, don’t be surprised.
Seven Impossible Things