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A BIG winner

Cover of Big
A review of Big by Vashti Harrison

Big, illustrated and written by Vashti Harrison, is the winner of the 2024 Randolph Caldecott Medal for most distinguished American picture book for children, a 2024 Coretta Scott King Author Award Honor Book and a 2024 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award Honor Book.

In her newest book Harrison tells the story of a girl with a big laugh, a big heart, and very big dreams. Grownups tell her encouragingly what a big girl she is, but as she grows up the comments about her size are no longer positive, and other people's words about her body make her feel small inside.

Dressed in pink, we see her internalizing unkind words as the perspective shifts and she is drawn larger than other characters and her surroundings. Even well-intentioned suggestions hurts her, as she is forced into a gray tutu to play a cloud in the ballet recital. The girl grows and grows, pushing the boundaries of the book and squeezing onto entire pages, until finally she lets it out with a good cry and makes the space that she needs for herself. She pushes out of the book - literally, with fold out pages that let the color pink back in, showing up in her outfit and the glow from the background of the illustrations. Our heroine stands up for herself, telling other people that their words hurt her, and she sets boundaries as she accepts and loves herself just the way she is. The final page highlights the girl dancing proudly, a smile on her face, surrounded by descriptive words: creative, good, imaginative, compassionate, gentle, funny, kind. 

I loved this story - the illustrations, the empowering message about confidence and fighting bias, and the meaningful author's note in which Harrison shares her own stories that served as inspiration for this gorgeous book. 

Read more about all the 2024 ALA Youth Media Award Winners here.

Jan 23, 2024