Maybe, by Kobi Yamada/Illustrated by Gabriella Barouch, (Sept. 2019, Compendium), $17.95, ISBN: 978-1-946-87375-0
A girl and her sidekick, a small pig, take readers on an introspective journey in Maybe. Opening with the question, “Have you ever wondered why you are here?”, Kobi Yamada inspires and encourages listeners to think about what each and every one of us is here to accomplish – to invent something? to you build things?- and embrace everything life has to offer; everything we set out to do, from a place of love and the desire to be a force for good. Speak for those who cannot. Shine a light into dark places. Kobi Yamada’s words will fill readers with a sense of purpose; strengthening them against failure by acknowledging that it isn’t how one falls down, it’s how they rise. Gabrielle Barouch’s artwork explores fantastic, surreal landscapes with a hold in the corporeal world: releasing a birdcage filled with glowing butterflies into the night; watering flowers while standing in them.
Maybe is a lovely book to look at, and a book that’s filled with potential, just waiting to share it with others. Share this with your readers; read this to your class visits; let the kids know that, as Kobi Yamada says, “You already have everything it takes to do big things”.
The Big Race, by David Barrow, (Sept. 2019, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 9781610678803
The Big Race is a very tough race in which only the fastest, biggest, and strongest animals participate. So when little Aardvark decides she’s going to sign up to compete, she gets laughed at. Her competitors – a lion, cheetah, buffalo, and crocodile – all laugh at her, and tell her she’ll never finish, but she will defy them all. She’s not competing to win; she’s competing to have fun. The story shows each of the bigger, stronger animals pushing themselves to get to the next level in this triathalon-type race, but Aardvark? She’s pushing herself, and giggling, laughing, and enjoying the journey. Aardvark may not be the biggest, strongest, or fastest, but she has enough heart to power her through the finish line.
Originally published in the UK in 2018, The Big Race is all about embracing the journey rather than the destination, listening to the inner voice that tells you “I can!”, and doing the thing that may be a little overwhelming. It’s about self-empowerment and self-reliance. The other animals jeer at Aardvark, but they’re the ones arguing over the grand prize while Aardvark stands, surrounded by her friends, and receives her medal for finishing. It’s a sweet story about challenging oneself, and testing one’s limits.
The mottled artwork is bright, and the contrast between tiny Aardvark and her hulking co-competitors makes for a big visual. Remind kids to be present, and to adjust expectations once in a while.
Am I Big Enough?: A Fun Little Book on Manners, by Julia Pinckney/Illustrated by Timothy Young (Jan. 2016, Schiffer Publishing), $16.99, ISBN: 9780764350535
Recommended for ages 3-6
A little boy named Finn watches his family as they go about their daily activities and wonders if he is big enough to do the same things. Finn knows his hands are smaller than his daddy’s, but they are big enough to do lots of things on their own – and he invites other kids to see how big they are, too!
Each spread poses one of Finn’s questions: Am I big enough to say please? Am I big enough to be quiet in the library? On the right hand side of the page is a handprint where children can place their hands to see if, like Finn, they are big enough to handle the task at hand. Bold fonts and colors exclaim, “I AM BIG ENOUGH!” With every spread, both Finn and the readers gain confidence because they’re big enough to do a lot more than they may think.
For toddlers and preschoolers that may be hearing about all the things they aren’t allowed to do because they’re too little, a book like Am I Big Enough? shows them all the things they are big enough to do; they’re big enough to share, big enough to shake hands, and big enough to show everyone around them how fantastic they are. It’s an empowering book for little ones that could work in a smaller story time, where each child gets a chance to find out if he or she is big enough. I read this with my 3 year-old and he LOVED it. It’s gone into our daily storytime rotation, and now he’s got no problem letting our family know that he’s big enough to do “LOTS OF THINGS”.
A good addition to collections for a toddler and preschool population, and a good recommendation for anyone who needs empowering books for their little ones.
Have a look at more pages from Am I Big Enough?