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Children's Fiction Siblings

When Stella Was Very, Very Small

by (author) Marie-Louise Gay

Groundwood Books Ltd
Initial publish date
Aug 2009
Siblings, Imagination & Play, New Experience
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2009
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2011
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    May 2020
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Out of print

This edition is not currently available in bookstores. Check your local library or search for used copies at Abebooks.

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 2 to 5
  • Grade: p to k
  • Reading age: 2 to 5


In this book in the Stella and Sam series, Marie-Louise Gay has gone back in time to answer the questions often asked by the children who read and love the books.

Where does Stella get her wild ideas? How big is Stella's imagination? What did Stella look like when she was small? How did Stella come to be the big sister to Sam that we all know and love?

Although Marie-Louise Gay didn't know what she would find when she started to explore Stella's childhood, she soon realized that when Stella was very small, she saw the world in her own unique way -- with wonder, curiosity and the sense that everything is possible. And when Sam came along, what could be more natural than to pass this sense of wonder on to him?

A story of a lovely, tiny Stella, whose world is full of small adventures and slivers of magic.

About the author

MARIE-LOUISE GAY has achieved international acclaim as an author and illustrator of children’s books. She has won many awards, including two Governor General’s awards, the Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Award, the Vicky Metcalf Award and the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award. She has also been nominated for the prestigious Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award and the Hans Christian Andersen Award. Marie-Louise’s very popular Stella and Sam series has been translated into more than fifteen languages and is loved by children all over the world. Her recent books include Any Questions? and Short Stories for Little Monsters. She lives in Montreal.

Marie-Louise Gay's profile page


  • Long-listed, OLA Blue Spruce Award
  • Short-listed, QWF Award for Children's Lit

Editorial Reviews

Since the publication in 1999 of Stella, Star of the Sea, we've hung on [Stella's] every word, following the wisdom she shares with her younger brother, Sam...Fans of this duo will love the new volume, and those who are discovering Stella for the first time will be eager to check out the rest of the series.

Montreal Gazette

[Children] will be delighted to hear Stella's reminiscences and will identify with her joy in sharing her big sisterly 'knowledge' with Sam.

CM Magazine

[A] delightful series...Gay's mixed-media scenes dance...Subtle and sweet, yet full of life and humor, [Stella's] world is a place kids will want to visit again and again.

School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

Gay is an expert at picture books and seems to crawl right into a preschooler's psyche...the child's perspective in space, her interpretation of the world...are all wrapped up in a few vivid images...[F]or the adult who shares these books with children, there's a secret pleasure in the rightness and lightness of Gay's vision.

Toronto Star

In this eighth book in the [Stella and Sam] series, Gay has lost none of the spirit and humour that has distinguished her earlier books...This new one demonstrates her sure touch with both watercolour pictures and text...[and] is rich in sensory experiences from the perspective of the small...


If you've ever wondered how Stella got so imaginative, wonder no more...Enchanting overhead views subtly drive home how being small makes the world seem big, and young listeners will feel encouraged to laugh at their own past foibles.


It is a book that the littlest book lovers will return to again and again.

Winnipeg Free Press

...Marie-Louise Gay has once again created a jewel of a book.

Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Review

Gay's books are ones that little ones and parents like to read over and over, for their gentle and clever stories and dialogue, as well as for the wonderfully wry and lovely artwork.

Halifax Chronicle-Herald

The charming illustrations, rendered in watercolour, pastel and collage, depict red-headed Stella's antics in great detail and from a variety of perspectives. Young readers will wish they could be just like Stella, or at least have a big sister like her. Stella is both wonderful and full of wonder - purely glorious.

Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

With Stella, Gay encourages us to see the world a little bit differently and to take notice of the wonder in everyday life.

Children's Book News

Marie-Louise Gay never fails to delight...

Globe and Mail

Stella's dynamic world and big sister charisma will pay off for fans of the gentle series.

Publishers Weekly

Other titles by Marie-Louise Gay