Harrison’s book, published in May by Little, Brown, follows a girl who is teased because of her size and learns to accept herself for who she is. In a starred review, a critic for Kirkus called the book—which was a finalist for the National Book Award—a “classic” and “a healing balm with the power to make the world a bit kinder.”
“Yes,” Harrison replied. “The girl in the book is not me. She doesn’t have a name. But the experience of getting stuck in the swing was real, and it happened to me.…I remember the fear and the anxiety and shame that I felt as a young child, and I wanted to make a book that acknowledged that. Those feelings are big and sometimes can trap us in and box us in.”
Sloan reflected on growing up big, saying that the first time a man hit on her, she was 9. “That’s why I like looking at [this book],” an emotional Sloan said, before taking a 14-second pause to compose herself. “This is the experience that girls should have, because we should get to be little.”
Harrison responded by mentioning a study that found that adults tend to view Black girls as “less innocent and more adult than their White counterparts.”
“I just wanted to reclaim space for children to grow, for their bodies to look different, to offer them the innocence and gentleness and care that they deserve for as long as they need it,” she said.
Michael Schaub is a contributing writer.