I may be a great grandmother, but I’m still a child at heart! I have my own collection of children’s books–those with strong, uplifting messages for children–especially girls, and adults–especially women.
I just added a new book to that collection. Coleen Paratore’s BIG.
Children can’t wait to grow BIG and Women can’t wait to grow SMALL, that is, to lose weight, to get into the next smaller size bluejeans. With all the media focus on women and size, i.e. small equals good and big equals bad, not good enough, inferior, etc.
BIG by Coleen Paratore and illustrated by Clare Fennell goes beyond the basics to show both children and adults that size is more than a matter of height (and I might add–weight!). Touching on ideas such as health, citizenship, and imagination, this book can be the key to heartfelt dialogue between children and caregivers about the importance of values over valuables.
As far as women go, this book opens up opportunity for heartfelt dialogue on the same topic. I encourage women’s book clubs to take a look at BIG and open up dialogue about how self-image affects our self-esteem, the value we place on ourselves, and others, and how we can discover our value outside what we look like, physically. So much more important is how we see ourselves and others. How we treat people. How we can take a closer look at the rules we live by such as, to show up, to pay attention, to tell the truth, and to stay unattached to the outcome.I challenge women, myself included, to spend our energy on being BIG in the ways that really matter. Ways that make our world a better place.
More about the author and the illustrator:
Colleen Paratore is a native of Troy, New York, and the eldest of six children. Her lifelong love of reading can be traced back to weekly trips with her mother to the Troy Public Library. Coleen’s fascination with words has taken her from first place in a grammar-school poetry contest to a Master’s Degree in English from Trinity College.
After leaving the workforce in 1994 to become a full-time mother of three, Coleen spent her days introducing her children to the world around them. “I didn’t know that I would one day write children’s books, yet everything in my life was leading me that way.” When her oldest son turned ten, the spark of writing burst into full flame.
With more than 17 books to her name, Coleen knows the importance of believing in one’s self. “Find what it is you love to do – because that is your gift – and then find a way to share it.” A fan of travel, theater, and movies, Coleen recently moved back to Troy, where she intends to continue writing.
Clare Fennell, the illustrator, spent fifteen years in the UK greeting card industry, designing products, managing a studio, and “running up and down a lot of stairs”. Holding fast to her illustration degree, Clare left her ordinary job to take on the extraordinary challenge of becoming a children’s book illustrator.
An admittedly messy studio keeper, Clare is very clear on what she likes. “I love children’s books, colour, pattern … and I love what I do.” Working in the mediums of collage, paint, and Photoshop, she focuses her artistic energy on children’s books
When the paint pots are shut at three p.m., Clare shifts into Mum mode. She lives in Leicestershire in the United Kingdom with her husband and two daughters.
If you’d like to learn more about Coleen, you might like to check out these links: