Big Bear Little Chair

Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
Big Bear Little Chair Book Poster Image
Kids easily grasp opposites through bold, stylized art.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Concept of size (big, little, and tiny) and of relative size. Concept of opposites.

Positive Messages

Thinking about size and comparing relative sizes is fun and manageable. Some things are big and some things are little, and that's OK.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Big Bear and little bear are depicted in the art as loving. They could also be seen as persistent since they continue to look for their chairs.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Big Bear Little Chair, by Lizi Boyd, was named a New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Books of 2015, and the art -- bold gouache pictures in black, white, gray, and splashes of red -- is indeed eye-catching and fun. This concept book introduces young kids to size by juxtaposing things that are big and little, with each page pairing and comparing things of different size -- for instance little butterfly/Big Rock and Big Moon/little star. With very little text, the fun is in the pictures.

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What's the story?

BIG BEAR little chair is a collection of opposites, of big things compared with little things. There's a thin thread of a story with recurring bear characters Big Bear and little bear. Big Bear is first paired with a little chair (he doesn't fit!), and little bear tries to climb onto Big Chair (too high!). Spoiler alert: At the end, they find their just-right chairs. Most of the pairings stand alone. Some are realistic and natural, such as little fish/Big Sea, and others, such as Big Zebra/little broom and Big Lion/little wagon, have a silly quality kids will enjoy. Partway through the book, author Boyd stirs a third concept -- "tiny" -- into the pot.

Is it any good?

This New York Times Best Illustrated book is ideal for teaching young kids the concepts of big and little -- and just for having fun, too. Each page pairs something big with something little, and the juxtapositions are sometimes moodily cosmic (Big Moon/little star) and sometimes happily silly (little umbrella/Big Bird). Because there's very little text, kids can chime in and "read along" from the start.

Kids will enjoy the recurring bear characters who come back looking for the chairs that fit them, and all the characters return at the end for a curtain call ("tiny stories ... everywhere!"). The art, in black, white, gray, and red, is bold and preschool-friendly, and one additional appeal of the book is its unusual trim size. It's long, narrow, and fun to hold, reminding us that this is a story about size.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about big and little. What things can you think of that are big, little, and tiny?

  • Do some things that seem big to you seem big to grown-ups? Do some things that are little to them seem little to you? How do Big Bear and little bear experience things differently?

  • What other opposites can you think of?

Book details

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