Theodore Roosevelt apparently said that 'comparison is the thief of joy' and that's almost always true. But in this great-fun story, comparison is the key to all sorts of funny and joyful moments.
A purple furry creature and an orange furry creature are just about to come to blows over who is big and who is small.
The orange creature is bigger than the purple creature, that’s true, but they can’t agree on who is quantifiably ‘big’ and who is ‘small’.
The orange creature tells the purple creature: “You are small.”
But the purple creature is certain: “I am not small. You are big.”
They each call in their friends to prove their point. And just when things are getting completely out of control: “Boom!” an enormous green foot plants itself in the middle of them and a bunch of tiny pink creatures parachute into the fray.
And suddenly the light goes on: they are all ‘small’ and ‘big’. And off they go to lunch. The perfect end to an argument!
For young readers, there’s a lot to connect with here. For example, starting school is always tricky and relative size carries a lot of importance. But for even the littlest child beginning school (or any new enterprise), it’s true that: You are (not) small.
Understanding relativity in relation to size is one of the building blocks of maths and science, making this a really great early childhood reader. But, it’s also so important to develop the ability to laugh when a sticky situation is resolved and this is a great book for leaving its readers with a giggle and a smile.
The wonderfully expressive faces of the creatures as they battle through their war of words are pretty funny - they progress from smug certainty to irritated to downright angry and then on to relieved and satisfied. Lots of really good reading clues there and since they are coupled with the limited and repeated vocabulary, this is an accessible and amusing book for early readers to try out their reading and expression skills.
Plenty of human foibles are on display here too – adults and teens will see bits of themselves and the world generally and will giggle along with their little ones.
Of course, that giggling could easily give way to some thoughtful and important discussions about how we see ourselves and others - and how our personal perspective can lead us to make blanket assumptions that may not be entirely true.
One other quick thought: I love that neither creature is proved right – and I love that the ‘small’ purple creature is not afraid or intimidated by the ‘big’ orange creature. They treat each other with a sort of robust egalitarianism and so when they both come to a new understanding, there is respect and even friendship.
A great lesson wrapped up in a hilarious and fast moving story.