UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds

The Sweetest One of All

Children's book bears an important message about yearning and belonging

By Sheryl Spencer

The Sweetest One of All
By Jean Little,
illustrated by Marisol Sarrazin
(North Winds Press) $19.99



We are born asking two fundamental questions: “Who are you?” directed to our mothers, and “Who am I?” directed to ourselves. The responses we receive forge the nature of our most fundamental relationship, that of mother and child.

The Sweetest One of All is well-known Canadian children’s author Jean Little’s most recent picture book, and it is a delight from beginning to end. A cow looks down at a skipping lamb and wishes she had one. “Nonsense,” the sheep scolds, “You don’t want a lamb, you want a calf.” By turn, each mother on the farm gets the right kind of baby; each baby identifies its mother; and each mother envelops her child with love, acceptance and belonging, including the human mother and child at the end.

“Who am I?” the lamb asks. “You,” the sheep says, “are the loveliest lamb in the land.” The Sweetest One of All celebrates our first identity — as the child of the mother — and presents the mother’s ideal response, one of utter enchantment with her newborn.

In a career that has seen over 40 books for children published, Jean
Little shows finesse with the picture-book form. Both author and illustrator speak the language of belonging, for The Sweetest One of All is deliciously rich in its uncomplicated simplicity.

Quebec illustrator Marisol Sarrazin’s deft use of pastels creates a bucolic springtime where butterflies, flowers, dragonflies and two cats wander among the main subjects of each illustration. The realistic details of a farm — enclosures, fences, barns — are nowhere to be found. Instead, the pages are filled with the love between the farmyard mothers and their offspring.  

This book is also fun to read. Little’s love of language is evident in frequent alliteration and lively dialogue, and she is able, even within a few short sentences, to endow each animal with character.

The Sweetest One of All bears an important message, one of having what is yearned for, of belonging where one belongs. It made me wish for little ones to read it to. Even so, my 12-year-old daughter snuggled into my arms and settled there for the story, still the sweetest one of all.

Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!

Announcement

New Observer editor and CEO, Jocelyn Bell. Photo by Lindsay Palmer

New editor named

by Observer Staff

Promotional Image

Editorials

David Wilson%

Observations

by David Wilson

A perfect send-off

Promotional Image

Video

ObserverDocs: My Year of Living Spiritually

by Observer Staff

Anne Bokma left the Dutch Reformed Church as a young adult and eventually became a member of the United Church and then the Unitarian Universalists. Having long explored the "spiritual but not religious" demographic as a writer, she decided to immerse herself in practices — like hiring a soul coach, secular choir-singing and forest bathing — for 12 months to find both enlightenment and entertainment.

Promotional Image

Society

November 2017

Trump country

by David Macfarlane

A northern Alabama county voted almost unanimously for Donald Trump in 2016. One year later, the writer, together with photographer Nigel Dickson, travels there to try to understand why.

Faith

November 2017

Involuntary pilgrim

by David Giuliano

The return of a tumour sets David Giuliano on a path he calls his ‘Camino de Cancer’

Faith

October 2017

A tale of two cancers

by Catherine Gordon

One year after the writer discovered she had breast cancer, her sister in California received the same diagnosis. They both recovered, but their experiences were worlds apart.

Society

November 2017

Trump country

by David Macfarlane

A northern Alabama county voted almost unanimously for Donald Trump in 2016. One year later, the writer, together with photographer Nigel Dickson, travels there to try to understand why.

Faith

November 2017

Involuntary pilgrim

by David Giuliano

The return of a tumour sets David Giuliano on a path he calls his ‘Camino de Cancer’

Faith

November 2017

Grey matter

by Trisha Elliott

Is consciousness just a function of the brain — or something more?

Promotional Image