The Little Chairs teaches children a little bit about the sadness of a family member. It is about a family who enjoys doing things together—until the daddy’s sad thoughts cause him to withdraw into a dark corner, away from his family. Nobody has made him sad, he says. He thinks he is making himself sad and he doesn’t know how to stop it.
Trying to get him out of his dark corner, the mama persuades the daddy to paint a little chair with yellow paint. The bright color makes him think of butterfly wings and a summer day’s sunshine. When he has finished the chair, the mama looks at him and tells him to “paint it again.” In the next few days, the mama brings the daddy three more little chairs in succession, and cans of brightly colored paint. He gets out of his dark corner only because she needs him. Each color makes him think of things that are not sad. He begins to paint the chairs twice without being asked. For the last chair, he uses paint “as green as Springtime,” and when he is finished, it is “shining like trees after a storm.”
Then it is time for his supper, and he is hungry.
Two children are pictured throughout this book, and the art alone reflects how the daddy’s sadness affects them.
This book does not mean to suggest that activity such as painting chairs is a “cure” for sadness. In the end, the daddy only feels like eating supper with his family again. He is, for the moment, out of his dark corner.
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