Sunday, March 15, 2015

You Are (Not) Small by Anna King

You Are (Not) Small by Anna King, illustrated by Christopher Weyant
Published by Two Lions

Rating: 5 stars

In February a bunch of children's books won a bunch of awards. You Are (Not) Small, a simple yet clever picture book, won the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for the most distinguished beginning reader book.

The book tells of an argument between a few groups of bears--they are certain of the other's size and, rather than open their eyes to comparison, they simply want to label the other group. If you have more than one child, you've probably had a similar discussion in your house.

Littlest: "I am not small. You are big."
Bigger: "I am not big. You are small."

So infuriating, but also fairly hilarious--they are BOTH right. And they are both wrong. All of a sudden, these barrel-bellied bears are having a philosophical debate on their relative size. They never stop to consider that they each look the same--same big belly, same oval nose, same everything except color and scale. It's Theory of Relativity for toddlers, who are easily guilty of defining themselves without considering much else besides...what they want to consider.

The debate gets louder but no more sophisticated (sound familiar? ever have an argument between your kids like this, or is it just me?) but abruptly ends when two humongous hairy feet descend from above -- BOOM! -- and a few teensy tiny bears float down in parachutes. Suddenly, there's a big-GER and small-ER group to add to the debate. And both the previously "not small" and previously "not big" groups have their own stubborn opinions supported by the addition of a smaller and larger scale of animal.

But they realize, like most kids do at some point, that both groups--that ALL groups--are, at the very same time, big and small. It just depends against whom they comparing.

The end is also true to life: when the big argument they cared so much about is over, they realize they're hungry and go off and eat.

I liked it a lot, but my kids LOVED it. Especially Ben, who is smack in the middle of this debate as he's bigger than Kiefer but smaller than Lorelei. Does that have something to do with his affection for the story?! Ben brought it in to his class when asked to bring in his favorite picture book (two actually--the other was Too Much Glue). 

If you like You Are (Not) Small, I think you'll also like Mo Willems' recent Elephant and Piggie book, which was a runner-up for the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award: Waiting is Not Easy!

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