Little (Riverhead) is the unusual story of a determined young girl who shapes a better life for herself through masterful wax figures. We recognize Madame Tussaud as the famed wax sculptor, but Edward Carey adds a compelling story that will stay with you as much as her own art. After her father dies, Marie (Little) and her mom go to live with a reclusive and peculiar doctor, Curtius who creates objects out of wax. When Marie’s mother dies, she stays on as his apprentice.

The tides turn financially for the doctor and he loses his funding from the hospital, so the unlikely twosome head to Paris. With the help of a friend, they find housing and move in with a tailor’s widow and her odd son.  The widow is cruel to Marie and she struggles to continue working with Curtius. Despite this obstacle, Marie tries to learn all she can about making wax heads, and develops a friendship with the widow’s son.

Curtius enjoys the new attention he receives from the widow, but this relationship complicates his ability to stand up to her when she is cruel. When the home becomes too small for this quirky bunch, they move to an abandoned monkey house and together they create a wax head exhibit for the public. Marie proves skillful in the art of creating wax figures and she is invited to live at the Palace and tend to Elizabeth, the Princess of Versailles.

During the French Revolution in 18th century Paris, after spending some time in the palace with the royal family, Marie is sent back to the eccentric doctor and the cruel widow. This time though, she is determined to find her freedom and independence. Her perseverance and commitment lead her to a now famed reputation as Madame Tussaud.

Author Edward Carey does a fantastic job developing unforgettable characters with vivid descriptions and charming drawings throughout the book.  I truly enjoyed Marie (Little) and her adventures. She admirably uses perseverance and strength when confronting cruelty, setbacks and loss. Marie is spirited and full of love and determination. As a businesswoman, she is tenacious as she seeks to develop her skills and connect with others for success. The other characters also are powerful in their own ways and summon emotion from the reader, making this an all-around captivating story.

1700s Paris, wax heads, royalty, the revolution and Marie (Little) – who becomes Madame Tussaud… this story has a lot going on, so it makes sense why Edward Carey took 15 years to perfect it. Expertly blending history, creativity, humor and tragedy I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it!

Little is now available for purchase.

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Edward Carey is a writer and illustrator who was born in North Walsham, Norfolk, England, during an April snowstorm. Like his father and his grandfather, both officers in the Royal Navy, he attended Pangbourne Nautical College, where the closest he came to following his family calling was playing Captain Andy in the school’s production of Showboat. Afterwards he joined the National Youth Theatre and studied drama at Hull University. He is the author of the novels Observatory Mansions and Alva and Irva: the Twins Who Saved a City, and of the YA Iremonger Trilogy, which have all been translated into many different languages and all of which he illustrated. His most recent novel is Little, which has taken him a ridiculous fifteen years to finish.