Lewis, J. Patrick. 2007. BIG IS BIG (AND LITTLE, LITTLE). Malaysia. Holiday House, Inc. ISBN 0823419096
Recommended Age Levels: 4 to 8
Big is Big (and Little, Little) is a poem picture book by author J. Patrick Lewis and illustrator Bob Barner. The book is a list of opposites, such as old and new and front and back. All of the pages have lines that end with rhymes but some lines add internal rhymes as well. Young readers will enjoy the rhythm and rhyme and it makes the book a great read aloud. Barner’s beautiful and bright illustrations will keep readers’ eyes following along. Young readers will also enjoy the familiar animals Barner picked to help represent the opposites.
Wordplay meets playful art in this clever look at opposites. Lewis's bouncy verse and Barner's rollicking illustrations show the contrasts between various animals-"Fat is fat and thin is thin. Some curve out and some curve in" is illustrated with a portly pig skipping next to a slinky snake. Using a chantlike beginning to each rhyme, every small vignette tells its own mini-story ("Cool is cool and hot is hot" compares penguins and a lizard; "Mad is mad and sad is sad" shows a disapproving frog and his chastened offspring). Done in a combination of cut-paper collage, bright pastels, and bold black line, Barner's animals cavort against vivid backgrounds. This book is a pleasure to use as a read-aloud or read-alone.-Marge Loch-Wouters, Menasha Public Library, WI Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
-School Library Journal
Bright, bold collages of torn paper, pastels and tempera fairly jump off the pages as Barner and Lewis team up with this concept book in rhyme for lap listeners. "Big is big and little, little / If you are somewhere in the middle" starts off the series of bouncy, whimsical couplets. The enormous whale takes up most of the double-page spread, while the jolly middle-sized fish chases after the tiny one, not realizing the danger. Well-known animals are chosen to illustrate the concepts, but some of the ideas might be a little over the heads of the target audience: "Young is young and old is old, / pink and blue-or silver and gold." The picture of a presumably older hippo and two teeny hippos does not help the reader understand the idea. The more straightforward ideas are the most successful. "Day is day and night is night. / One is dark and one is light." Still, preschool teachers will enjoy this somewhat slapdash examination of the oft-taught idea of opposites.
Patrick Lewis was named Children’s Poet Laureate
Questions to Ask Before Reading:
What does big mean? What is something that you think is big?
What does little mean? What is something that you think is little?
What are opposites? Can you name a set of opposites?
Suggestions for Reading Aloud:
Have the students act out the book with hand motions as you read. For example, when you read “Big is big” students can stretch their hands out to show something big.
Two Voices: Pick two students to rehearse parts to read aloud. Split the first line into the two opposites and have the students read the last part together.
Text: “Big is big and little, little/If you are somewhere in the middle”
Student 1: “Big is big”
Student 2: “and little, little”
Student 1 and 2 in unison: “If you are somewhere in the middle”
Call and Response: Split the class into two groups. Have the groups take turns reading lines. One group can read one line from the page, or one whole set.
Group 1: “Big is big and little, little. If you are somewhere in the middle.”
Group 2: “Short is short and tall is tall. If that means anything at all.”
Group 1: “Big is big and little, little.”
Group 2: “If you are somewhere in the middle.”
Line-Around: Have students take turns volunteering to read a line from the book. Students can even act out their part as they read it.
Follow Up Activities:
· Have students work on sorting objects by size (big, medium, or little). Have students draw an example of something that is big, medium, and little.
· Discuss relative size. In the book, we see a big whale, a medium fish, and a little fish. How would you describe your size compared to a whale? (Little) What about your size to the little fish? (Now you’re big) How can you be described as big and little? (The teacher can extend this to talk about short and tall, which is discussed on another page).
· The book outlines contrasting words. As humans, we are all unique and different from those around us. How are you different and the same as other students in your class? How are different and the same as other people in your family? Make a graphic organizer comparing the similarities and differences between you and one other person.
· Discuss all the descriptive words used in the book (big, little, short, tall, sweet, mean, young, old, hot, cool, fast, slow, hairy, shiny, smooth, etc) Make a Bubble Thinking Map to describe an animal in the book. (Remember to only use adjectives in the Thinking Map.)
· Make a class book of opposites. Optional: Vary the level of text, picking an appropriate level for your students. Examples: A whale is big. A mouse is little. Or simply label: Big. Little. Have the students illustrate the book by drawing pictures, cutting pictures out of a magazine, or taking pictures with a camera.
Related Web Sites:
Use this site to research the author, J. Patrick Lewis. Search his works, read riddles, and even invite Lewis to your library!
Use this list to review opposites. Also, there are a lot of sorts and other activity ideas here as well.
Use this fun game to have children match words that are opposites.
Sherry, Kevin. 2007. I’M THE BIGGEST THING IN THE OCEAN. New York: Penguin Group. ISBN 0803731922
A large squid believes that he is “the biggest thing in the ocean.” He goes around comparing his size to other things in the ocean. Then, the squid meets a whale, and learns he is not “the biggest thing in the ocean.” This book can be used to describe big and little things and relative size.
Patricelli, Leslie. 2003. BIG LITTLE. Massachusets: Candlewick Press. ISBN 0763619515
A baby lists various things that are big, compared to little things, like big heads and little toes. The book can be used to describe things by size.
Hills, Tad. 2011. WHAT’S UP DUCK: A BOOK OF OPPOSITES. New York: Random House Children’s Books. ISBN 9780375988585
Throughout the book Duck and Goose illustrate a list of opposites. The book can be used to discuss opposites.