Something Big


A little one and a big one talk together.
The little one is upset because he wants
to do something big, even though he?s
still ...
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A little one and a big one talk together.
The little one is upset because he wants
to do something big, even though he’s
still small.

The big one and the little one go for a
walk along the beach, and there something
both surprising and big occurs.
A gentle, lyrical story in which author
Sylvie Neeman beautifully grasps the
tension between a child’s small size and
his ability to dream big dreams.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times - Sarah Harrison Smith
There's an honest intimacy to the conversations between the small one and the big one that ring true; reading them, one realizes how rare they are in the realm of picture books, which so often seek to comfort or simply amuse. Whether the interactions will be interesting to a young reader will depend a lot upon the child. For a reflective, thoughtful kid, reading this book with a parent could lead to discussions—or simply a realization—of how one might approach frustrations (for the child: be active, go out in nature and see what you find there; for the adult: don't try so hard to solve the child's problem for him). Accomplishing these ends with very little exposition makes Something Big quite unusual, and like its illustrations, very artful indeed.
Publishers Weekly
Midway through this knowing exchange between a parent and child (who are referred to throughout as “the big one” and “the little one”), Neeman gets to the heart of the story’s paradox: “You want to do something big but it’s hard because you’re still little, isn’t that right?” the boy’s father asks. The father tries to tease out what his child has in mind, but they aren’t quite connecting. “I said it would be something big like a lighthouse... but I never said for sure it would be a lighthouse by the ocean,” complains the boy. “Oh, I get it,” replies his father, “even though he no longer gets anything.” Illustrating in childlike, crayony lines, Godon is entirely attuned to the boy’s frustration, her images jumbling together in much the same way one’s thoughts entangle when trying to work through a problem. When the two walk to the ocean together, the horizon line cuts through their bodies, which overlap with each other’s, too. “Big” and “little” are a matter of perspective, readers will understand, as Neeman and Godon elevate an intimate, everyday moment into something significant. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)
From the Publisher

New York Times Book Review Notable Book of 2013

STARRED REVIEW, Publishers Weekly
"Neeman and Godon elevate an intimate, everyday moment into something significant."

“There’s an honest intimacy to the conversations between the small one and the big one that ring true; reading them, one realizes how rare they are in the realm of picture books, which so often seek to comfort or simply amuse. [...] Accomplishing these ends with very little exposition makes “Something Big” quite unusual, and like its illustrations, very artful indeed.” - The New York Times Book Review

Godon’s art—which, as you can see in the art featured here today, is a cousin in style to the illustrations of Chris Raschka—is as emotionally resonant as the text. In one striking spread, we see the boy seated in frustration, and there are nearly scribbled lines trying to enclose him. The text reads: “The big one suddenly wants to hold the little one in his arms, but he doesn’t dare because he feels that the little one doesn’t really want a hug at the moment. First they have to resolve the problem of big things.”” - 7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast

School Library Journal
Gr 1–3—This Swiss import uses minimalist cartoon sketches in thick-line greens, reds, and blues to depict a conversation between a "little one" and a "big one," the former frustrated by a lack of the ability to do "something big." Continued dialogue during a walk to the sea reveals concern for resolution as both characters' thoughts are revealed. The little one discovers a small fish caught in a tidal pool and releases it back to the sea, whereupon the big one says, "I think you just did something big." Though creating an opportunity to converse on ways young people can positively affect the world, the narrative's pace and understated tone may be too sophisticated for the intended audience.—Gay Lynn Van Vleck, Henrico County Library, Glen Allen, VA
Kirkus Reviews
A little one wants to do something big, even though he is a little one. In this fraught pleasure from Neeman, an unnamed small boy is disturbed that he can't do something big, since he is little. Like what? asks the big one. (The text never defines the characters, but they appear to be a father and son in the illustrations.) The little one can't quite put his finger on it. Not like a mountain or a tower or a house. Maybe he'd like to build a lighthouse? suggests the big one. "No, I don't. You don't understand anything," says the little one, a bit peevishly. On they go, in a quiet back-and-forth conveyed in language that allows readers into the relationship. "I don't think it's a good idea for you at your age to do something little," says the little one to the big one after another off-target suggestion, though there is a tenderness always at work between the two. Sometimes the little one can be too sensitive a flower, but Godon's artwork keeps that in check, with its minimalist line work and moody fields of color--ancient blue, green, red and black, and a lot of white. And the solution to the little one's dilemma, if it is a solution, is a good balance of mystery and possibility. A sweetly caught moment of youthful existentialism. (Picture book. 4-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781592701407
  • Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books
  • Publication date: 9/3/2013
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 954,154
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Sylvie Neeman was born in Lausanne
in 1963. After receiving her degree, she
began her life as an author and editor.
Currently, she is the editor of the literary
review, Parole, and has published many
wonderful books.

Ingrid Godon was born in Belgium in
1958. A prolific illustrator, her books have
been translated into many languages
and have received many awards. She lives
in Liège.

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