Is It Big or Is It Little?


The cat-and-mouse chase that winds through the pages of this delightful book holds a few unexpected surprises for everyone. To a mouse, almost everything is big -- but to the cat that starts chasing him, things look a bit different.

Bold illustrations and simple text will not only introduce young children to basic descriptions but also allow them to explore the idea of relativity and help them understand the many ways of seeing the world around...

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The cat-and-mouse chase that winds through the pages of this delightful book holds a few unexpected surprises for everyone. To a mouse, almost everything is big -- but to the cat that starts chasing him, things look a bit different.

Bold illustrations and simple text will not only introduce young children to basic descriptions but also allow them to explore the idea of relativity and help them understand the many ways of seeing the world around them.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times - Sarah Harrison Smith
Though brief, Is It Big or Is It Little? is attractive, funny and filled with exciting action; you may come away from it humming the tune to The Pink Panther. Rueda's resourceful mouse has something in common with that charming cartoon creature.
Publishers Weekly
Rueda cleverly demonstrates the idea of relativity in this smart, pared-down picture book. “Is it big?” asks the opening page, as a small black mouse stares up at an orange ball of yarn. “Or is it little?” asks the next page, as a black cat appears out of nowhere, dwarfing mouse and yarn, and sending the critter scurrying. Crisp, graphic images in black, white, gray, and orange trace this literal game of cat and mouse, as a “long” dash for the mouse is shown to be a “short” leap for the cat, and the “scary” feline able to be “scared” by an even bigger threat. Ages 3–6. (July)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
"Is it big? Or is it little?" are the first of a series of questions asked on alternating double pages showing how the answers to the questions depend on circumstances. For example, an orange ball is big next to a small black mouse, but little compared to the large black cat that hovers over it eyeing the fleeing mouse. The water the mouse swims in across the next double page is deep, but shallow as the pursuing cat splashes across it. And so we contrast light and heavy, long and short, scary and scared, as the cat chases the mouse all the way to the surprise ending. The mouse carries a red-orange ball of string, the only other color used in the illustrations, as it runs from the black cat over a gray landscape and river. The flat shapes of black, orange, and gray on the white pages form a subtle interplay. It is fun to watch the mouse run to safety trailing the string behind. The questions asked should make youngsters think about the relevance of meaning. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Children's Literature - Lisa Colozza Cocca
The relativity of descriptive qualities is explored in this twist on the concept book. As a mouse races through the pages of the book with a cat in hot pursuit, readers see objects in relation to each of the main characters. Along the way the cat and mouse get some help in showing spatial relativity from some ants and a dog. Most of the comparisons in the story focus on the relativity of size. Readers look at whether an object is big or little, long or short, deep or shallow, or light or heavy. They learn that size is relative to the person or thing looking at it or standing by it. The last few pages compare scary and scared and beginning and end. The sparse text is displayed on two page spread illustrations. The illustrations, done entirely in black, white, gray, and orange, are bold and graphic with few details. This title is sure to stir some conversation when shared with a young audience. Reviewer: Lisa Colozza Cocca
School Library Journal
Pres-Gr 1—This extremely simple book explains how the meanings of even very basic words can differ, depending on the perspective of the observer. For example, the first spread features a small black mouse gazing up at what is to him a large red ball of yarn (easily mistaken for a balloon, as it has no texture). He asks, "Is it big?" The following spread shows a black cat much larger than the yarn ball preparing to pounce on the mouse asking, "Or is it little?" Other illustrations deal with deep/shallow, light/heavy, long/short, scary/scared, and end/beginning. The artwork features clean white space, simple lines, and a palette of black, gray, and red. However, the colors are flat, with no value or shading-not much to engage the eye. There are some humorous touches but, while the point is made, there is not enough here to encourage repeated readings, even for the youngest audience, rendering this a marginal purchase.—Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
A mouse flees a cat in a striking sequence of opposite pairs. A lively rodent—so simply depicted in solid black that he is practically only ears, bright eyes and whiskers—grasps one end of what is seen on the title page to be a very large, orange ball of yarn. When the cat arrives—also solid black and all long legs, paws, tail and menacing eyes—the mouse takes off in a brief and spirited sprint through several different perspectives and their opposites. A wade through deep water for the mouse is a shallow splash for the pursuing cat. In a leap from a height, the mouse and a leaf as parachute seem light, but a row of tiny ants bearing the leaves aloft suggests the leaves could be heavy. And when the chase is nearly over, the cat having reached the mouse, the orange yarn plays a role: "Is it the end… / …or is it the beginning?" The limited palette and plenty of blank space serve to keep the story in motion: The solid black and orange forms of mouse, cat and yarn pop from the page with energy and pizzazz, while gray appears in the form of solid planes, water, rocks and the third character: a toothy bulldog. Fun and uncomplicated as a story and concept book but sophisticated in visual impact, this is agreeably stylish graphic design for the very young. (Picture book. 2-5)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802854230
  • Publisher: Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 7/5/2013
  • Pages: 26
  • Sales rank: 1,474,728
  • Age range: 3 - 6 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Claudia Rueda is a Colombian author and illustrator who has created many stories for children. Her most recent titles include No (Groundwood) and Huff and Puff (Abrams Books). Visit her online at
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