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Little Zizi

Kirkus Reviews
“the frankness and humor with which author and illustrator address [the subject] will draw a …swelling audience.”

Poking its way across the border more than ten years after its first exposure in Canada, this wry twist on the Penile Code provides direct reassurance to worried readers (of the male persuasion, at least) that Size Doesn't Matter. Catching sight of nerdy Martin standing naked in a swimming-pool dressing room, swaggering Adrian sneeringly dubs him "Little Zizi"; when Adrian goes on to announce that the lads will all decide who's to be pretty Anais's boyfriend with a peeing contest, Martin determines to fight back-but despite hard practice, come the contest he can't perform.

No matter: Anais proceeds to hook up with Martin for a smooch. After a while, everything in Poulin's finely-modeled illustrations, from a string of sausages to a peaked cowboy hat, begins to look like a phallic symbol. Perspective renders the anatomy in question only barely visible; more obvious is the contrast between Adrian's piggy countenance and Martin's hunched shoulders and opaque eyeglasses.

Not a comfortable topic, at least in this country, but the frankness and humor with which author and illustrator address it will draw a (wait for it) swelling audience. (Picture book. 6-9)
- March 15, 2008 
Publishers Weekly
Playground politics meets penis anxiety in this unlikely comedy. “Like all boys, Martin had a zizi, and this zizi didn't cause him any problems,” writes the French author. But the school bully singles out Martin's zizi: “With such a little zizi, you can't make babies!” Later he adds insult to injury by asserting, “With your little zizi, you can't pee very far at all!” Can Martin vanquish the bully, reassert his manhood and win the beautiful, popular Anais?

Poulin, a Canadian illustrator, chronicles Martin's torment and triumph with cinematic perspectives and a Brueghel-esque feel for character and place; his burnished paintings convey both the gritty reality of school life and the fretful ruminations of the endearingly geeky hero. Wry but always empathic, Lenain brings a novelistic depth to a story that could easily have been little more than an adult's cheap joke—especially given that the pivotal event is a peeing contest.

Whether or not little boys care so much about the size and procreative powers of their zizis is debatable, but for sheer storytelling talent, there's no doubt: Lenain and Poulin are definitely well endowed. Ages 6–up.
- May 12, 2008 
Midwest Book Review
Little Zizi is a unique children’s picturebook that dares to address a part of growing up that virtually no other children’s literature will touch. “Zizi” is a euphemism for “penis” in this simple and charming tale about an ordinary boy, named Martin. Martin wonders whether one day his little zizi will become the size of his dad’s zizi; it’s normal for young boys to wonder that. But then a locker room bully named Adrian makes fun of Martin’s little zizi in front of all the other boys. To make matters worse, both Martin and Adrian are sweet on Anais, the prettiest girl in school. Adrian challenges Martin to the contest—whoever can pee the farthest wins! When Martin can’t perform in the contest despite his practice, Adrian is victorious; yet the next day, Anais repudiates Adrian’s affections. She prefers the kindly Martin, “Because love isn’t a question of a zizi—large or small.”

Enthusiastically recommended, especially for mothers and fathers to share with their sons when teaching them the facts of life.
- June 16, 2008 
Review of Texas Books
The Nightmare that Mothers of Toddler Boys Must Share!

I was at first skeptical about featuring this book; a public school library might have reservations about ordering this selection, but as a mother of a five year old boy, I quickly changed my mind. I have witnessed my son unzip his pants and tinkle in front of his early childhood development center. Yes, other parents and children saw; he apparently confused school with our annual spring time back woods camping trips. He has done other deeds of the same type that have made me want to render myself invisible.

Little Zizi is a treasure of a book that teaches and encourages young boys to be comfortable with their bodies and genitalia.

The book features the most of embarrassing moments for children, including being caught naked in a swimming class changing room and made fun of by the other boys. Of course name-calling and other insults ensue later in the day.

That night, Martin, now otherwise known as little Zizi, dreams a dream that all adolescent boys must after such embarrassment. The dream is one young boy’s challenge, but I’ll leave the outcome to the reader. For me, after all the bullying children, both boys and girls, inevitably face, Martin learns a valuable lesson in both self confidence and friendship.
- Holly Carey, July 9, 2009 

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