When Nanda is born, the whole of her world is the circle of her mother’s arms. But as she grows, the world grows too. It expands outward—from her family, to her friends, to the city, to the countryside. And as it expands, so does Nanda’s wonder in the underlying shapes and structures patterning it: cogs and wheels, fractals in snowflakes. Eventually, Nanda’s studies lead her to become an astronaut and see the small, round shape of Earth far away. A geometric meditation on wonder, Small World is a modern classic that expresses our big and small place in the vast universe.
Newcomer Mercurio tells the story of Nanda, a brown-skinned girl who grows up to be an astronaut. When she's a baby, Nanda's world is small, no larger than "the circle of her mother's arms." As she grows, her world does, too, starting from the tight-knit "circle of her loving family" and spreading outward (to "a sway of branches... scaffolds of steel") until it encompasses the whole planet. Serene images by Corace (Telephone) appear in slightly skewed, nontraditional perspective, conferring a folk-art sensibility to the spreads. As Nanda grows more interested in flight, she's seen working a "human-powered helicopter," then piloting an airplane over a tapestry of fields and water. An astronaut at last, she wears a spacesuit among "a sea of stars," the Earth visible in the distance it's "a circle called home." Lyrical writing ("the microscopic elegance of fractals in the snow") and graceful illustrations together convey the idea that learning opens up a whole world. Mercurio does more than nudge kids in the direction of STEAM fields; she celebrates the beauty of discovery and the elegance of flight. Ages 4 8. Author's agent: Laura Biagi, Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency. Illustrator's agent: Steven Malk, Writers House.