To a child, size matters. Much emphasis is placed on being “big.” How often have you heard a child boast, “I not a baby! I a big girl (or boy)!” Children love to place their hands and feet beside a parent’s limbs and assert that they are almost as big as Mom or Dad. What I love about You Are (Not)Small by Anna Kang is that it taps into this touch point of childhood. With delightful illustrations by Christopher Weyant, it deftly and humorously, highlights that size is relative. The story follows a conversation between an ostensibly small character with a visibly larger one. The tiny one resists the label that the large character applies to him. The little one responds by turning the statement around: “I am not small. You are big.”
Which is true? Like so much in life, neither is absolutely true; each is relatively true. Compared to one creature, the main character is tiny. But, compared with a different one, he is huge. Thus, both statements are true. He is both little and big!
This is an important lesson for children to learn: comparisons depend on the metric being used. Like statistics, they can tell a different story depending on what is emphasized and what is ignored. They do not change; only the measuring scale differs. Labels can hide as much as they highlight and divide as much as unite.
This story can be used to help children see how comparisons can lead to feelings about themselves that are based on illusion. Parents can discuss what things about a child are consistently true. The story opens conversation about bullying as well. As a writer who focuses on adoption issues, I know adopted children are often told that their families or parents are not real. This book provides an easy way to address that question. Just as the characters are both big and small, families can be both adopted and real, just like birth families! Enjoy this book for its story, sense of humor and colorful illustrations. This is a book children will want to read again and again. Gayle H. Swift, "ABC, Adoption & Me: A Multicultural Picture Book"