September 2, 2014
You Are (Not) Small by Anna Kang, illustrated by Christopher Weyant
You Are (Not) Small
by Anna Kang
illustrated by Christopher Weyant
What makes someone small or tall? Or possibly even both. The answer, of course, is perspective.
Author Anna Kang has created a picture book that is all about how we relate to each other and our preconceived notions but the beauty is that she never overtly says this. Instead, a shorter gray bear meets a taller brown bear. The brown bear announces that the gray bear is small. Not surprisingly, this offends the gray bear who doesn’t think of himself as small at all. He insists that the brown bear is big.
The brown bear responds by gathering a group of brown bears. He can’t be big, because they are all the same size.
The gray bear gathers other gray bears to prove that he isn’t small because they are all the same size.
The discussion is going no where impressive — translation: they’re yelling at each other — when BOOM! A pair of giant feet shake the ground, changing everyone perceptions yet again.
The beautiful thing about Kang’s treatment is that she discusses perception and prejudice without ever saying those words. Through her bears, it becomes clear that each group sees the world and those in it just a bit differently and that no one is entirely correct.
Christopher Weyant’s ink and watercolor illustrations bring the story to life. His bears are just cute and silly enough to keep the arguing from being to scary or serious. Yet, his bears are expressive enough that the reader can easily guage their mood.
With the humorous twist at the end, this probably wouldn’t be your best choice for a bed time book — you don’t want anyone to wind back up in a fit of the giggles. But it would make an excellent group read as a jumping off point for a discussion on variety, diversity and the reality that may be only in our own heads.
After all, just because you think it doesn’t make it so.
Except, in this case, I’m right and I know it. If this book isn’t on your preschool shelt, buy it. It is an excellent teaching tool without being in the least bit preachy. A perfect book to share with a group of preschoolers.