You Are (Not) SmallA small purple creature walks up to a larger orange fuzzy one and the orange creature promptly declares, "You are small." Well, I wonder how that makes the little guy feel? He turns around and says, "I am not small. You are big."
by Anna Kang
illustrated by Christopher Weyant
Two Lions, 2014
Your local library
It's not me -- it's you who's different. They each bring out a host of friends to show how they're like everyone else -- and it's the other guy who's different.
I loved talking with 2nd graders about how they could relate to being big AND small at the same time. As 2nd graders, they are now the big kids out at recess with the kindergartners and 1st graders. They know how everything at school works. But if they walk upstairs, right away they feel small again peeking into the 5th graders' classroom.
Even better was the way I could encourage them to apply this to other areas, seeing how they might feel good about themselves doing one thing, but not so good doing something else. Duncan said he felt "big" when he played baseball, but not so big when he had to be catcher. We even applied that to ourselves as readers, and what it meant to choose a book that was "just right" for ourselves -- not worrying about other kids in the class.
Tonight, I shared with the teachers this excerpt from an interview with the author, Anna Kang:
Where do your ideas come from?I look forward to talking with kids specifically about Anna's experience -- I think many will relate.
My childhood, observing my daughters and what they experience, characters I want to see come to life, a particular feeling or problem.
Where specifically did “You Are (Not) Small” come from?
Christoper Weyant and Anna Kang
I’ve been playing a version of the dialogue in the book in my head since I was a child. I’m considered “small” or “petite” here in the U.S. (I’m Korean American), and among other things, it’s extremely challenging to find clothes that fit. When I was nine years old, I spent the summer in Korea, and I remember shopping with my Aunt and discovering racks and racks of clothes that were exactly my size in every store we entered, as if the clothes were custom-made specifically for me. The clothes weren’t in a special “petite” section or in a younger, more “junior” section. They were just clothes. Regular, everyday clothes for a nine-year old girl. For the first time in my life, my size—in addition to my skin color, hair and eye color—was “normal” and unremarkable. I suddenly looked like everyone else in the world, including the people on TV, in movies, advertisements, and in books. As a child, this was an overwhelming experience. It made me feel incredibly safe and empowered, and it boosted my confidence and grounded me when I returned home at the end of the summer. I was not “other” or “different.” I was just “me.”
I eventually learned that how you saw yourself and others depended on your personal experience and your community, that perspective is subjective and not necessarily the entire truth.
So, years later, when I sat down to write a story for a children’s book, this idea naturally popped out.
source: Cracking the Cover
What a terrific way to begin the year -- recognizing that we all have strengths and weaknesses, that we are all growing and have changed over the summer, but we're all growing at our own pace.
Many thanks to friend Alyson Beecher for recommending this at her site Kid Lit Frenzy -- check out her interview with Anna and Christopher. The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher, Two Lions. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.
©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books