The Tale of the Tiny Man

The Tale of the Tiny Man
Co-Authors / Illustrators
Age Range
Release Date
April 05, 2022
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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 themselves.

Editor review

1 review
The Comfort of Canine Companionship
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
This 1979 title is a Swedish classic that reminded me a bit of Shel Silverstein's 1964 The Giving Tree. A man lives alone and suffers from loneliness as well as abuse from the few people he does see. He desperately wants a friend, and even puts up signs advertising his wish for companionship. No one answers, even though he sits on his front stoop for days waiting. Eventually, a dog comes to sit with him. Encouraged, the man gives the dog an increasing number of treats, and he returns each day to sit with the man, leaving every evening. Eventually, the dog comes inside, eating the man's dinner and sleeping in his bed. The man is so happy to have a friend that he doesn't see this as an inconvenience. The dog also protects the man from mean dogs and people, and the two continue to spend time together, sitting outside even when it is cold. Come spring, a young girl joins them, and the man is jealous when the dog snuggles up to her. Dejected, he roams the woods for seven days alone, but when he comes back, he sees that the girl and the dog are missing him, so he knows that he now has two good friends.
Good Points
The illustrations are soft and have a European feel to them, and the expressions on the faces of the people and the dog are rather delightful. There's just enough text for a comfortable read aloud or for an emerging reader to pick up independently.

Vintage literature can be tricky... and trippy, and it's often hard as an adult to see the message that's being conveyed. On the surface, this is a sweet tale of a man and a dog befriending each other, and that would explain its popularity in its native country, where it has been made into a play that regularly toured. For younger readers who aren't worried that the man is spending a lot of time sitting on the stoop in all weather, this will be a heartwarming tale about the enduring love and devotion of a dog, and it salvation that such a love can provide.

The tiny man's story reminded me a bit of Schoolhouse Rock's The Tale of Mr. Morton, which I will spend the rest of the day humming to myself. (That's okay. It's my favorite of the grammar rock episodes, and has a nice story as well as a solid grammatical message.) Pair this with Jones' Perdu, Thompson's A Family for Louie or Sorosiak's new Anywhere with You for a satisfying read about the power of canine friendships.
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