Picture Books in Review: You Are (Not) Small

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Greetings, everyone! It’s time again to take a walk down memory lane and reconsider everything you ever thought was simple about your childhood. Today in Picture Books in Review, we are looking at what may be our easiest read yet. With only 32 pages and 91 words, this book can be read in under a minute, but it delivers a message that can last a lifetime.

Anna Kang’s You Are (Not) Small is the conversation between a bear and a smaller bear. Or maybe it is the conversation between a bear and a bigger bear. It is all a matter of perspective… just like this book.

The conversation begins like this:

Bear 1: You are small.

Bear 2: I am not small. You are big.

“You ARE small!”

What begins as a minor civil disagreement soon gets out of hand. The bears bring in backup, everyone starts yelling, and had this been a police-run society, and had these bears possessed cell phones, the authorities would have been notified, and it all would have been videoed and posted to social media with radical hashtags and harsh, unresearched commentary.

It is when everything is in turmoil, that in crashes a bear far larger than both of the original bears and down parachutes a fleet of bears so tiny, they make the former “small” bear seem huge by comparison.

You are not small

All relativity is skewed, and the argument is soon resolved. The bears realize that it is possible to be both big and small at the same time. It is all a matter of perspective. Then they decide to go to eat, and it’s a happy, picnic-basket-filled ending for all.

The moral of this story seems pretty simple. There will always be someone better than you, and there will always be someone worse. The theme is to not compare yourself to others, right? Maybe not.

If this story was really about comparing yourself to others, the dialogue would have gone a little differently. We would have been met with more self-conscious bears. There would have been a little less, “I’m not small, you are big!” and more, “Why am I not as big as you?” and “Wow, I’m huge by comparison to that bear.”

But no, what we have here is a slightly more dangerous concept. This book is about the too-common mindset that not only is your way of life the right way, but the only way, and, by extension, the standard from which every other culture should be judged.

Those little blue bears aren’t insecure about their size. If you ask them, they are the perfect height, and those giant brown bears are freaks of nature. And the brown bears feel just the opposite! It is the same danger that we fall into when we start thinking that a group of people is less than us because of how they dress, or what they believe, or where they live. However, at the end of this story, the bears begin to understand. You can be both big and small. It’s okay to be different; you can just be yourself.

This picture book packs in a huge life lesson that, if grasped by kids today, could exponentially benefit the future. That lesson boiling down to: your way is not the only way. Your culture is not the only culture. The world needs all kinds of people. We need big bears and small bears. Blue bears and brown bears. Old fish, new fish, red fish, blue fish. Let’s go eat.

Last Updated on November 28, 2018.


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