A Small Moment That Made Me Feel BIG!
Something amazing happened at a recent school reading I did, and I'm going to tell you about it, because it's sort of every picture book author's dream. Well, second only to having a puppet show done of your book by a gaggle of kids, but I realized that dream last year...*sigh*. Man, that was sweet.
So- I was at a charming local school reading my latest...the followup to I DON'T WANT TO BE A FROG, which is I DON'T WANT TO BE BIG to about 80 kids. I had on my green Chucks with neon green laces on, as I always do, and the glasses on the end of my nose because a kid once didn't believe I was an author until I put on my glasses. So I ALWAYS wear my glasses.
BIG is a fun story to talk about because it came directly from a parenting situation, so I can speak about it with a lot of narrative and details. The basics- I have a very petite daughter who wouldn't eat her dinner one night. So I said something I promised I'd never say as a parent (along with “if you don't blah blah blah, no TV...ugh), which was “Don't you want to grow big and strong?” My little kid looked me right in the eye some time ago and said “I DON'T WANT TO BE BIG”.
I grabbed my notebook and sort of interviewed her. She had a lot of reasons she didn't want to be big. She'd given this some thought, offline. She was good at surprising people and hiding in small places. She didn't hit her head on things and she had lots of legroom in the car. Oh, also, I was still happy to carry her everywhere. Eight year olds are pretty pragmatic. There was something else...she was pretty sure if she grew BIG, she'd have to get an apartment and a job, and she wasn't in a rush to do that. This wasn't a hunger strike, by the way, she just doesn't like cheese that much and when a dinner to her liking came the following night, she ate like a horse. She likes tofu and vegetables and pickles.
I digress...She got me thinking about all the small kids I'd met over the years. Many who are not quite as content about it, and I thought, yeah- let's talk about the upside of being small. Why not?!
Which brings me to the amazing thing that happened at the reading a little while ago. As the kids got up from their criss-cross, applesauce spots on the floor, a smallish little boy, who'd seemed sort of shy throughout, stood up tall and said “I'm so happy I'm small!” and the kid next to him, a much taller, bigger kid said, “Darn. Now I wish I was small too.” And then they left together, chatting about how it was funny to see an elephant playing hide and seek.
Now I want everyone to be happy with who and what they are. But if, for a moment, those two kids are closer to understanding each other, and understanding their respective experiences of being a kid, then it's a step. And I'll take it.
Thanks for reading!
Ooh- Here's a link to the trailer for I DON'T WANT TO BE BIG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPx_cMN7Q74
and one to the book: https://www.amazon.com/I-Dont-Want-Be-Big/dp/1101939206
I'm always delighted to hear from fans, readers, etc. And always happy to send out a signed bookplate for anyone from afar wanting a signed copy.