I first heard about this little graphic novel in the news a few weeks ago. It had made news because already renowned Perth graphic novelist Mel Tregonning had committed suicide before she finished it. Her family contacted Shaun Tan, arguably Australia’s most well-known graphic novelist, and asked him to help them finish it in her memory. I saw one of Canberra’s loveliest bookstores Book Passion had some copies, and they very kindly kept one aside for me until I could pick it up on the weekend.
“Small Things” by Mel Tregonning is a graphic novel about a young boy who seems to be struggling. At school and at home he is plagued by tiny shadows and he starts to feel like the cracks are starting to show. His only solace is his little nightlight that chases the shadows away at night, but it’s not enough to help him from withdrawing more and more into himself.
No book exists without some kind of context, and the story of how this book came to be is as heartbreaking as the story contained within its pages. There are no words, only images but it is crystal clear that this is a graphic novel about depression. “Small Things” is an important work and really highlights the need for empathy and to reach out to one another.
Some things speak louder than words, so I won’t write more about this than to say that this is one of the finest books I’ve read this year and I highly recommend it to everyone.