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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:

Amazon Kindle

Video trailer:
Little Pickle Press website:

Free lesson plans:

21 Comments Post a comment
  1. We did (and do) get such mixed messages about being BIG. I happen to be really tall and grew up feeling inferior about that – of all things! But I also grew up thinking I had to be superwoman. I’m not sure we’ve clarified matters in today’s world either.

    September 12, 2012
  2. Cameron #

    I love your approach to “BIG”, and the way it is applicable to women in today’s society. One of my favorite thing about Little Pickle Press books is that they can open up conversation, no matter what the age. Great post. Thank you.

    September 12, 2012
    • Thanks, Cameron. I truly do think children’s books offer such important messages to adults, as well as children. Little Pickle Press’s approach to inspire conversation is so desperately needed in our country today. May we all learn what being BIG is all about!

      September 12, 2012
  3. Dani’s post struck a chord in me. I grew up, small and that defined me for much of my childhood and into early adulthood. Called “cute” and “mini” and not taken as seriously as I wanted, irritated me. I developed my sense of humour to deflect the comments and also to deal with the hurt. Humour has now become a part of who I am and not merely used to bolster my self-confidence. Now that I am “big”, I’m hoping to instill more important attributes in my girls that go far beyond body size.

    September 12, 2012
    • Jodi, and your post struck a chord in me. And I am thrilled to know women like you are working to change the concept of size and what contributes to a woman being BIG! Big comes from the heart — not the physical. And I am thrilled you turned the hurt into humor. Our world certainly needs more of that! Which is another reason why I love children’s books. Thank goodness for folks like Little Pickle Press–who focus on just that!

      September 12, 2012
  4. SweetSarahCA #

    Terriffic post! These are such great ideas for any woman to start the day with. I also really appreciate the time you took to tell us a little about The two wonderful ladies that wrote and illustrated BIG!

    September 12, 2012
    • SweetSarah! What a lovely name! Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. And for adding the suggestion of starting our days with this thought of what constitutes being big. And indeed, the book is beautiful and the women who created it added so much to our world of reading. Inspires me, for sure!

      September 12, 2012
  5. BIG is relevant to all of us in how we are constantly trying to adjust and alter ourselves when our natural selves are really quite incredible. It is only when we start making comparisons to others that we start to see failings, flaws and shortcomings. This book really emphasizes that being the best you in the present moment is what matters, and what forms us as people, both big and soon to be big.

    September 12, 2012
    • Thanks, Tony, for dropping by! Points well made–and taken! A great book that indeed deserves to be read by all!

      September 12, 2012
  6. This is a very important book for every parent to buy/read to their daughters AND sons.
    J.Deak, author of How Girls Thrive, Girls Will be Girls, and Your Fantastic Elastic Brain

    September 12, 2012
    • Thanks, JoAnn. And in the process of reading it to our children, the parents and grandparents learn the lesson too! Double wammy!

      September 12, 2012
  7. I can’t agree with you more. You sound like a very wise grandmother!

    September 12, 2012
  8. Really great post, Sylvia. Big can mean many different things and it can affect all ages. Both of my kids are tall. When they were younger they often got crude comments about their height. It was hard for them, especially my daughter.

    September 12, 2012
  9. Thanks for the comment, Helen. And wow. Yes, children can be equal opportunity bullies. Criticized for being little and criticized for being big. That makes it even more vital for parents and grandparents and teachers and….everyone…to set the example for our precious children.

    As the song from the South Pacific says, you have to start early to teach a child to hate. I say, we also have to start early to teach our children respect and equality.

    September 12, 2012
  10. I can SO relate, Helen. I’m 5’10” and towered in heels. I hated it in school, loved it in business. And now I feel short, because like many older women, I’m shrinking, and younger women are much taller, too. Physical size really ought to be a non-issue.

    September 12, 2012
  11. It is only an issue because we let it be. This last weekend at the East Texas Book Festival in Tyler, Texas I got a photograph of me (pushing 5’3″) standing beside Elvin Hayes, NBA Hall of Fame guy–who stands at 6’9″

    Gives a whole new meaning to size and big. Elvin is big, but not because of his height, but because of the man.

    September 12, 2012
  12. Sylvia, I am raising three children, two of whom are girls. I am constantly amazed at their observations about appearance. The lens through which they are seeing the world and themselves is partially (perhaps even largely) ground and focused by their peers, the media, other outside influences. As their mother, I only have partial control. Our titles are intended to catalyze meaningful discussions between children and adults about topics such as the ones you mention. It is our intention to not only improve the quality of the content our children consume but also to raise the consciousness of the community to help shape these children best. Thanks so much for sharing your perspective.

    September 12, 2012
    • Rana, thanks so much for stopping by. It is exciting to hear there are folks like you–mother’s yourself–who diligently work to improve the education and training of your children! OUR children!

      September 12, 2012
  13. Leslie #

    Being a BIG sister to 3 younger siblings, my adolescence was perpetually about being BIG in order to set a good example. Fortunately, back then setting a good example meant simply staying out of trouble, and being polite. I wasn’t raised in an age where my external image was driving my self-esteem, or my popularity. I didn’t need to develop a “brand” for myself based on my looks. It must be so hard growing up now, truly difficult to focus on what’s important. A book like this helps to hone in on what the core basics are to being a beautifully BIG person; full-figured or not.

    September 12, 2012
    • Thanks, Leslie. And hooray for older sisters! Especially when they set a good example!

      September 12, 2012

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