Leo Lionni’s Pezzettino is the story of the small Pezzettino (which means “little piece” in Italian), who is a small orange square surrounded by other beings who are all made up of many different-colored squares. Pezzettino observes that everyone around him is “big and [does] daring and wonderful things.” He concludes that he must be a little piece of someone else, and he sets out to discover whose little piece he is. He talks with many other creatures, asking if he is their little piece, and all of them respond that they couldn’t be themselves if they had a piece missing.

Eventually, Pezzettino ends up on an island of pebbles. Tumbling down the rocks and breaking into pieces, he realizes that he too is made up of little pieces. Pezzettino makes sure he has all the pieces of himself back together, and then hurries home and joyfully announces to his friends, “I am myself!”

What makes an individual that person? Are we the sum of our parts? If you lose a piece of yourself, are you still you? What is the relationship between our bodies and who we are?

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