The Tiny Portrait Book Review


The Tiny Portrait by Heidi Carla on Grandma IdeasSometimes a book comes along that makes me say, “Wow!”

I could say that several times about The Tiny Portrait by Heidi Carla. It’s an amazing book.

So just exactly what is it that makes me say wow?

First of all, the pictures are stunning. As a wannabe photographer, I understand that it takes great knowledge, skill, and talent to take wonderful pictures. And the pictures in this book are magnificent!

My favorite picture is a two-page spread that has an old-fashioned key, postcards, map, eye glasses, gloves, compass, and toys . . . and the picture of a girl looking at her reflection in the mirror . . . and the tintype . . . and the public library . . . and a woman standing by a tree on the bank of a river . . . and well ALL of the pictures in the book.

The story is about siblings Tess and Toby who discover the tintype portrait of an unknown ancestor in a family trunk. The tintype had a bright image of a woman and her dog.

Let’s pause here for a moment to review what a tintype portrait is.

A tintype is where a positive (not the negative) of a photograph is applied to a thin sheet of iron coated with a dark lacquer or enamel. These tintypes were widely used in the 1860s and 1870s.

While they started out being made in a photography studio, tintypes became more commonly made in booths at fairs or carnivals. I guess you could say that they were the precursor to the photo booths that you see in malls today.

Now back to the story.

Tess places the tintype on her nightstand. During the night it fell off. In the morning, the bright image of the woman and her dog was gone. All that was left was a faded outline.

The woman and her dog seemed to have leapt from the tintype and out into the world. Tess and Toby chase after them and go on an adventure to find the mysterious woman (and her dog) and to discover her identity.

Along the way they are encouraged to explore their own unique connection to the past and to create their family tree.

This is a delightful story that grandparents won’t mind reading over and over to their grandchildren. In fact, reading this book could lead to all sorts of wonderful activities that could strengthen your relationship with your grandchildren and them with their ancestors.

Here are a few ideas of things you could do:

  • Share pictures of you when you were young. Compare hairstyles and clothing with your grandchildren. Discuss how they have changed over the years.
  • Bring out some of your clothing and let your grandchildren play dress-up in them. (You ARE saving some clothes throughout the years, aren’t you, so that your grandchildren can see what you wore?)
  • Have your grandchild create a simple family tree that shows them, their parents and both sets of grandparents.
  • Share parts of your diary (if you have one) or your personal history.
  • Have your grandchild start their personal history.
  • Share items that you might have inherited from your parents or grandparents.

You might want to check out my post about Stories from My Grandparent and How to Write Your Memoir in 30 Days.

Last week, we had a ‘party’ (which was really just a gab fest…) with my girl cousins on my mother’s side of the family. One cousin showed us the dresses, shoes, hats, gloves, purses, and sewing machine that she had inherited from our grandmother. They were so interesting to see.

My paternal grandmother tatted and embroidered on pillowcases. For several years after I was first married, she would always give me a set of pillowcases for Christmas. I took one set and made a heritage doll for me and for my daughter. I felt that was one way to honor her and her beautiful handiwork.

I also have lots of crocheted doilies. (I almost feel bad for my grandchildren because they won’t be getting any of that type of handiwork from me . . .)

You can get The Tiny Portrait on Amazon. It sells for $15.88 and would be a wonderful addition to your book collection. It would be a wonderful book to read to your grandchildren and to use as a springboard for activities about your family’s heritage and genealogy.

I highly recommend that you get this book. You will be very pleased with it.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book for a review. It did not influence in any way my opinion of it. I did not receive any pay or remuneration for the review.