Small Ears in a Big City | written by Ava Penoyer and illustrated by Csilla Kőszeghy


Out Now from Crabtree Publishing Company; 32 pages

About the Author: “Ava Penoyer wrote Small Ears in a Big City as a college freshman at the University of Arizona as a final project for a course on hearing health in society. She felt inspired to portray a story to children about the importance of strong communication methods and why they should be appreciated. During her time as a student, she studied English and secondary education, and she has a deep passion for social justice, sustainability, and leadership. She hopes that this story will empower young readers to appreciate the beauty of communication and cherish the moments away from the noisy world” (Bio from Small Ears in a Big City).

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About the Illustrator: “Csilla Kőszeghy was born and raised in Budapest, Hungary. Csilla studied printmaking at the Academy of Fine Arts Hungary and later studied illustration at Kingston University in London. Csilla has been illustrating children’s books for twelve years. Csilla has loved horseback riding since childhood and now drives to a nearby ranch to practice riding” (Bio from Small Ears in a Big City).

Find Csilla Kőszeghy on the following platforms:

“Polly smiled at the mouse. She learned so much today! There were ways the two of them could talk. And they could do it the right way.”

Polly the pigeon flies high over the city, observing the hustle and bustle from afar. When she spots her friend, Molly the mouse, she yells to get the little mouse’s attention. Molly, however, cannot hear Polly’s call over the crowd. When Polly becomes confused and upset that Molly did not respond to her, Molly must explain that the bangs, clangs, yells, and bells of the city drowned out Polly’s voice. Polly begins to realize that Molly is constantly surrounded by sound, so she must take extra steps to ensure that Molly understands her when she tries to communicate. Molly suggests that Polly address her directly and speak slowly, using hand gestures and positive body language. The two friends part with a better understanding of communication techniques and each other. 

This picture book was just plain delightful! I liked that the language was understandable for younger readers but not oversimplified. The rhythmic, rhyming words practically begged to be read aloud. Furthermore, the rhyme scheme did not prevent the author from effectively relaying her message. I loved how Small Ears in a Big City made learning about hearing differences so accessible. Readers of all ages can easily pick up the communication techniques described in the book and apply them in their own lives! I appreciated how Polly never made it seem like it was difficult to accommodate Molly’s needs; she was always open-minded and accepting of her friend, despite how different their experiences were. I also enjoyed the inclusion of reflection activities and writing prompts. Providing opportunities for young readers to engage creatively with the book can boost their comprehension of the subject matter. Penoyer makes education fun! Additionally, I would be remiss not to praise the wonderful illustrations by Kőszeghy. Readers can instantly fall in love with the characters based on the pictures alone! You’ll want to keep turning the pages just to see more of these adorable animals. I recommend that kids, parents, and educators pick up a copy of Small Ears in a Big City and find a nice, quiet place to read it. I think all young children would benefit from hearing this story and reflecting on how they can accommodate the needs of others in their daily lives. 

Ashley Amacher, Pine Reads Review Assistant Director & Lead Editor