Book Review: Big and Little
“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!“
Ronald Reagan June 12, 1987
When I hear this quote I can’t help but agree with the Gipper’s impassioned plea for children’s book authors to tear down the literary “fourth wall“, and allow characters to speak directly to readers. “Big and Little” succeeds at drawing in readers by making them the audience. An entertaining flap book that will work well individually or with groups of listeners.
The premise is this: Elephant jumps into a small container of water. That’s it. The first time you’ve seen this reenacted? Me either. The circus ringmaster (a mouse) pours a glass of H20, sets it on the table, and speaks directly to the reader (there is no other audience shown) about what’s happening. The buildup is exciting. Things get more and more urgent until the time comes for everyone to find out if Ellie can actually dive into that glass. The twist ending will catch readers off guard and adds a nice finishing touch.
You ever read a book aloud to kids and have the punchline/exciting result ruined because the next picture shows what happens? Kids are already laughing/shocked/grossed out before you can read it. The only alternative is to read the book with the pictures facing you and turn it over when you get to the punchline, which is no fun. “Big and Little” is set up so that will not be a problem. Take a look:
(click to enlarge)
Each two page spread contains a flap that the reader must flip over to continue the story. If you’re a regular reader you may know how I feel about gimmickry (click here to read my review of “Gallop! A Scanimation Picture Book”). But that’s just plain inventive, friends, and it adds suspense to the story. A solid choice for storytime.
Find this book at your local library with WorldCat
(photos of “Big and Little” Â© 2007 by John Stadler)
About Travis Jonker
Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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