Helpful for the right child-adult pair or group.

THE BIG BOOK ABOUT BEING BIG

A multiracial cast of children demonstrates that “BIG is being the / BIGGEST YOU / that you can be.”

An Asian child rides a two-wheeler, a younger black child rides a bike with training wheels, and a white preschooler rides a tricycle as the book’s central question is introduced: “Are you BIG yet? / When, exactly, does BIG happen?” People who say that big is “measured / by years, or / weight, or inches” are “wrong.” The text continues, “BIG is BIGGER than that.” Big is being “bright” and “kind” and “an active citizen.” Big is being “a friend to the Earth” and “a friend to yourself.” And how will you know when you’ve become big? You’ll feel “a pride inside, / a feeling of goodness… / in your heart.” Scenes show the three children spending time with family, helping elders, teaching friends, growing a garden, and outgrowing training wheels. The final spread asks, “How many little ways can you think of to be… / BIG?” Fennell’s collage illustrations use a wide range of colors and patterns for a fun, if busy, effect. A lengthy, slightly redundant endnote lists things readers can do to “Choose to Be Big!” What this purposive conversation starter lacks in artistry it may make up for in utility. This is worth a try when redirecting children’s focus from things and abilities to relationships and character is the goal.

Helpful for the right child-adult pair or group. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-9684-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Pickle Press

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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A heartwarming story about facing fears and acceptance.

PERFECTLY NORMAN

From the Big Bright Feelings series

A boy with wings learns to be himself and inspires others like him to soar, too.

Norman, a “perfectly normal” boy, never dreamed he might grow wings. Afraid of what his parents might say, he hides his new wings under a big, stuffy coat. Although the coat hides his wings from the world, Norman no longer finds joy in bathtime, playing at the park, swimming, or birthday parties. With the gentle encouragement of his parents, who see his sadness, Norman finds the courage to come out of hiding and soar. Percival (The Magic Looking Glass, 2017, etc.) depicts Norman with light skin and dark hair. Black-and-white illustrations show his father with dark skin and hair and his mother as white. The contrast of black-and-white illustrations with splashes of bright color complements the story’s theme. While Norman tries to be “normal,” the world and people around him look black and gray, but his coat stands out in yellow. Birds pop from the page in pink, green, and blue, emphasizing the joy and beauty of flying free. The final spread, full of bright color and multiracial children in flight, sets the mood for Norman’s realization on the last page that there is “no such thing as perfectly normal,” but he can be “perfectly Norman.”

A heartwarming story about facing fears and acceptance. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68119-785-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for...

OLIVER AND HIS EGG

Oliver, of first-day-of-school alligator fame, is back, imagining adventures and still struggling to find balance between introversion and extroversion.

“When Oliver found his egg…” on the playground, mint-green backgrounds signifying Oliver’s flight into fancy slowly grow larger until they take up entire spreads; Oliver’s creature, white and dinosaurlike with orange polka dots, grows larger with them. Their adventures include sharing treats, sailing the seas and going into outer space. A classmate’s yell brings him back to reality, where readers see him sitting on top of a rock. Even considering Schmid’s scribbly style, readers can almost see the wheels turning in his head as he ponders the girl and whether or not to give up his solitary play. “But when Oliver found his rock… // Oliver imagined many adventures // with all his friends!” This last is on a double gatefold that opens to show the children enjoying the creature’s slippery curves. A final wordless spread depicts all the children sitting on rocks, expressions gleeful, wondering, waiting, hopeful. The illustrations, done in pastel pencil and digital color, again make masterful use of white space and page turns, although this tale is not nearly as funny or tongue-in-cheek as Oliver and His Alligator (2013), nor is its message as clear and immediately accessible to children.

Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for all children but sadly isn’t. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7573-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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