Sunday 14 May 2023

When I’m Big

When I’m Big by Karen Blair (Penguin Random House Australia) HB RRP $19.99 ISBN: 9781761045813

Reviewed by Dannielle Viera

Now that her mum is expecting a baby, everyone tells the protagonist that she’ll ‘be a BIG girl soon’. At first, the idea excites her – she’ll be able to reach high things, jump long distances and even help her Granny. But then she worries about how BIG she’ll get. Will she need a larger bath and bed? Will she still fit in her house? She tells her mum that she doesn’t want to be a big girl. However, when the tiny baby arrives, she realises that ‘being a big girl … is magic’.

Ideal for two- to five-year-olds, When I’m Big gently explores the concept of growing up – especially with the imminent arrival of a sibling. Karen Blair’s young protagonist takes the adults’ words literally, and she questions how she’ll cope with being a giant girl in a normal-sized world. When the girl asks, ‘Will I fit anywhere?’, Karen has hit the nail on the head – once the baby arrives, will the girl still fit into the family? Littlies will soon discover that being a big sister is both sweet and satisfying.

The pastel colour scheme throughout the book is kind to young eyes. At the height of the protagonist’s concerns, the pages are awash with cool blue. But light and love soon enter the girl’s life again, with lemons and pinks warming up the spreads. As the girl literally grows bigger and bigger, the visual humour will make kids smile – especially when she must have a bath in a public swimming pool, while her dad scrubs her back with a broom.

Brimming with whimsy and wonder, When I’m Big is an imaginative take on the uncertainty that kids often have about growth and change. The uplifting conclusion – where sibling connections are celebrated – will melt hearts big and small.

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