cover image Big


Vashti Harrison. Little, Brown, $19.99 (60p) ISBN 978-0-316-35322-9

This ode to big self-love from Harrison (Sulwe) begins with a smiling, brown-skinned baby girl who has “a big laugh and a big heart/ and very big dreams.” Through a series of emotionally centered, affectionate digital images set against dreamy chalk pastel backdrops, this smiling, bouncing baby becomes a child who “learned and laughed and dreamed and grew and grew and grew. And it was good... until it wasn’t.” The dancing, playful child becomes the subject of cruel playground taunts when she gets stuck in a swing, and receives criticism from a teacher that “made her feel small.” Overwhelmed by others’ derision, the girl runs away from a dance rehearsal in which she’s made to wear plain colors and embody a mountain instead of a flower. A moving several-spread sequence, which includes a gatefold, portrays the overwhelmed child as increasingly cramped within the pages—and others’ judgments—before she gives the words back (“These are yours./ They hurt me”) and makes room for everything she loves (“I like the way I am”). Full of important truths about adultification and anti-fat bias, Harrison’s deceptively simple telling tenderly offers the self-affirming beliefs that kids are kids in any body, and that it’s okay to take up space. An author’s note concludes. Ages 4–8. Agent: Carrie Hannigan, HG Literary. (May)