Enormous Smallness: A Story of E.E. Cummings — Written By Matthew Burgess, Illustrated By Kris di Giacomo

$17.95 USD

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"The title of this book (Enormous Smallness) is perfect. Many of us think of poems as small things, but as much as anyone, E. E. Cummings showed us that even the smallest stanza could hold enormous meaning. Lovingly written (Burgess is himself a poet) and ingeniously illustrated, this book is a treasure for both fans of Cummings, as well as those discovering his poetry for the first time."

— The Huffington Post

"It's important to get your kid to sleep, but a good bedtime reading does a lot more—it can inspire them in ways that will serve them well later on. That's the message of Enormous Smallness, a new picture book biography of the poet E.E. Cummings."


"The author includes major life events and poems, always circling back to a playfulness born in the poet's childhood and carried through his entire life, nurtured by parents and teachers. What makes this such a successful children's book is the author and artist's focus on Cummings's ability to channel and hold onto the inventiveness of childhood."

—Jennifer M. Brown, Shelf Awareness

"My second graders, with no prompting, absolutely LOVED Enormous Smallness, a perfect picture book biography of the great e.e. cummings by Matthew Burgess. (Without invitation, they applauded!) They were silent and receptive the whole way through (that means they were with me. It was as though they realized they can be poets! At least that's what I hope.)"

—Bri Johnson, New York City Librarian

"It's a book that will be hugely encouraging to young children who want to write, be poets, or just do things a little differently from the norm."

—Whitney Morton Woodcock, The Portland Book Review

For Ages 2 - 6

  • A Boston Globe Best Book of 2015
  • A 2015 Huffington Post Best Picture Book in Biography
  • A 2016 Notable Children's Books in the English Language Arts
  • A KBACH/Changing Hands Bookstore Book of the Month Pick
  • A 2016 Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Book of the Year
  • Selected by the Great Lakes Great Books Award Committee, A Program of the Michigan Reading Association, for the 2016-2017 State-wide Literature Program

Enormous Smallness is an enchanting picture book biography that is a unique and inspiring introduction for children to the life and work of e.e. cummings, one of America's most innovative poets.

Written in verse, the text is accessible and lends itself well to read-alouds. The book itself is a work of art, full of thick pages of whimsical, full-spread illustrations in a palette of grays, blues, browns, and greens.

Burgess chronicles the poet's childhood and early adulthood, beginning and ending in the Greenwich Village studio where he would spend nearly 40 years of his life.

Here E.E.'s life is presented in a way that will make children curious about him and will lead them to play with words and ask plenty of questions as well.

Lively and informative, Enormous Smallness also presents some of Cummings's most wonderful poems, integrating them seamlessly into the story to give the reader the music of his voice and a spirited, sensitive introduction to his poetry.

In keeping with the epigraph of the book—"It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are," Matthew Burgess' narrative emphasizes the bravery it takes to follow one's own vision and the encouragement E.E. received to do just that.


Format: New, Hardcover with Jacket

Published: April 7, 2015

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

ISBN: 978-1-59270-171-1

Pages: 64

Dimensions:8.25" inches W x 11.5" H

Weight: 1.3 pounds

Rating: ★★★★1/2


The Author

Matthew Burgess teaches creative writing and composition at Brooklyn College. He is also a writer-in-residence with Teachers & Writers Collaborative, leading poetry workshops in early elementary classrooms since 2001.

He was awarded a MacArthur Scholarship while working on his MFA, and he received a grant from The Fund for Poetry.

Matthew's poems and essays have appeared in various journals, and his debut collection, Slippers for Elsewhere, was published by UpSet Press. His doctoral dissertation explores childhood spaces in twentieth century autobiography, and he completed his PhD at the CUNY Graduate Center in June 2014.

The Illustrator

Kris Di Giacomo is an American who has lived in France since childhood. She has illustrated over twenty-five books for French publishers, which have been translated into many languages.

This is her sixth book to be published by Enchanted Lion Books. The others are My Dad Is Big And Strong, But . . . , Brief Thief, Me First!, The Day I Lost My Superpowers.

Enchanted Lion Books


Enormous Smallness was published by Enchanted Lion Books. We love them, and they can share their vision, mission, raison d'être in a much more articulate way, as I usually as reduced to "Ooooh!" and "Wow!"

"Enchanted Lion Books is an independent, family-owned publishing company based in Brooklyn, NY. We opened our doors and published our first list in spring, 2003. We love books, well-told stories, and illustrations that open up the visual world and deepen a child's sense of story.

We publish illustrated books from around the world, convinced by the power of cultural exchange to inspire curiosity, awareness, and wonder in children everywhere. We reach across time and oceans to find new authors and old treasures to share with a new generation of readers.

We select the books that we publish with great care. We seek out those that we believe children will enjoy and that reflect an individual voice or vision.

We live with the books we publish long before they go to press, and we share them within our communities. We also sleep with many books under our pillows, and we publish the ones that invade our dreams.

We believe in the books we publish because they are beautiful and lively, thoughtful and full of feeling. They evince a fierce belief in the imagination, exploring the inner world as richly as the world around us.

Our books explore the feelings and imaginative lives of various animal and human characters, but they also travel out into into northwest Pakistan, China during the Cultural Revolution and the Levantine world during the golden age of Arab science.

We have published books from authors and illustrators in Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Finland, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Japan, Switzerland and the US.

Books allow us to explore worlds long before we travel and long after. We therefore seek to give children books that will help them feel that this world we share, with all its surprising, wonderful complexity and beauty, is home

As we all know, books help children to cross all kinds of boundaries and borders long before they begin to grasp the world through actual travel and experience.

We thus take as our task that of connecting young readers to the wonderfully diverse modes of expression that exist in the world, so that in the end they will feel that the whole world—with all of its wonderful, surprising and very real similarities and differences—is their home."