You Are (Not) Small. By Anna Kang. Illustrated by Christopher Weyant. Two Lions. 2014. 29 pages. $16.99.
You Are (Not) Small is a fresh and fictional picture book that reminds readers of all ages of that age-old adage that a “person’s a person, no matter how small” (Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss). Preschool and elementary students will enjoy this story written and illustrated by a husband and wife team out of New Jersey. It is their first book and was written in 2014.
Kang presents readers with an identifiable message: Size depends on the perspective of the viewer. The author’s linear plot introduces the major conflict within the first few pages and includes one rising action with a solution preluding the end. There are a few secondary conflicts that can be inferred from within the storyline. One could use this book to promote a discussion about bullying, building tolerance and/or handling conflict resolution. It could also be used to introduce the differences in sizes (big, medium, small) or it can be used to teach varying points of view (perspectives). The fuzzy brown creatures are considered big until someone else comes along. As readers’ progress through the story, they see how size can change. The language style is written as a verbal conflict between two different groups of creatures.
The author creates a defensive dialogue where the characters are arguing back and forth with one another. She is able to translate a message that differences are dependent on the perspective of the viewer. The words are in a large font for early readers and the text is repetitious following an I am, you are, they are style that will build fluency with multiple reads. The word font enlarges and reduces to reflect the volume of the character who is speaking. The sentences are simple for readers to decode and comprehend.
The illustrator’s fantastic ability to capture emotions and translate the author’s words into the illustrations creates a perfect unity between storyline and illustrations. He creates a perfect blend of sketched fantasy with human characteristics for his fuzzy creatures. This avoids younger readers from being frightened by the imagery. The human characteristics help children relate to the emotions and experiences that are occurring within the plot. The minute detail to the setting allows the reader to focus on the interactions between the characters and the viewpoint of each character.
You Are (Not) Small is a fun story that children and the adults reading them will enjoy making little monster voices to. It’s a great hook to a social studies or Second Step lesson to encourage and foster classroom community, getting along with others to become productive citizens and maintain a cooperative environment where others feel safe and included. It also is a great story to promote a positive atmosphere where children are learning to celebrate everyone’s differences! This book belongs on the shelf next to the likes of Langston Hughes’ I, Too, Am America, Karen Katz’ The Color of Us, Dr. Seuss’ The Sneetches and many more books about diversity and accepting yourself. This book is an absolute must read and must have!