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My Strange Shrinking Parents

Zeno Sworder


Winner of the CBCA (Children’s Book Council of Australia) award for Picture Book of the Year: a heartbreaking and heart-warming story of the sacrifices parents make for their children

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One boy's parents travel from far-off lands to improve their son's life. But what happens next is unexpected. What does it mean when your parents are different? What shape does love take? And what happens when your parents sacrifice a part of themselves for you?

In this heartbreaking and heart-warming story, CBCA award-winner Zeno Sworder reflects on his own migrant parents' sacrifices to create a universal story about what it means to give to those you love. Drawing from the sacrifices his Chinese mother made to raise her young family in a small country town, Sworder's drawings are full of beautiful detail and fairytale settings that explore his own journey from child to parent.

With humour and pathos, Sworder reflects on the strange nature of giving and receiving love and celebrates those parents who embrace a hard life for themselves in the hope of a better life from their children. Full of depth and generosity as well as insight and candour, Sworder brings this gorgeous fable to life.


Winner: CBCA (Children’s Book Council of Australia) Picture Book of the Year


'A poignant, fantastical conceit, reminiscent of the work of Shaun Tan... In spare, unflinching prose, Sworder shows just how much [parents are] willing to give up so their son can have what other children have... [His] soft pencil-and-watercolor illustrations, inspired by Japanese woodblock prints, are as rich with emotion and atmosphere as his text'
The New York Times Book Review

'[With] muted colors and stunning, intricately textured illustrations ... this deceptively simple tale is laced with profound, beautifully wrought truths... A clever and poignant tribute to the love of all those who made the journey'
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

'Haunting and magical... One of the best takes on the experiences of children of immigrant a picture book form... A story of truly enduring love... Each piece of this book fits snugly together with every other piece, like a well-constructed puzzle. Simple enough for children to understand. Layered enough for adult readers to appreciate. Strangely perfec'
School Library Journal

'A powerfully emotive read'

'A deeply moving story that honours the personal cost of giving everything to those you love. The illustrations are beautiful, capturing the fierce strength, love and dignity of the boy’s parents'

'Thought-provoking … the amazing illustrations and poignant words beautifully capture the difficulties encountered by immigrant children and their families'
The School Librarian

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Size: 29.2 x 20.1 cm

Extent: 40 pp

Publication date: 19 January 2023

ISBN: 9781760761233

About the Author

Zeno Sworder is a writer and artist who lives in Melbourne with his young family. Sworder is the CBCA New Illustrator of the Year 2021, and his first book This Small Blue Dot was a CBCA Notable Book, the winner of the 2021 Australian Book Designers Association's Award for Best Designed Children's Illustrated Book, and the Designers' Choice Children's/Young Adult Book of the Year.