Be You Big
by Raven Howell
Clear Fork Publishing

"Be you flower, be you tree, rugged mountain, calmest sea. Candy Heart, Cupid’s glow, you are here to bloom and grow."

The lyric poem that makes up the text of this children’s book gives a simple message that no matter a person’s appearance or personality, they are loved. Beautiful watercolor illustrations of children interacting with nature accompany the minimal text on each page. Some pages are simple: “Be you big,” for example, shows a boy swimming peacefully next to a whale. Other pages offer more complexity. For instance, the ones for “Never lost” and “Always found” show the same scene, but with hiding children and animals in the former, and all of them out of hiding in the latter. Most pages feature little details like a snuggling cat or a peeking worm, guaranteeing that little readers’ eyes will stay on each page longer than it takes to read the short lines.

The uncomplicated text is suitable for toddlers up through early readers, with a large, clear font. The gentle rhymes are soothing enough to serve as a bedtime read, while the illustrations provide ample inspiration for children’s imaginations. The children in the pictures are diverse in age, race, body type, and mood, allowing young readers to see themselves in the characters’ places. For example, “Be you thin” and “Be you round” feature children with contrasting body types, but neither the text nor the images put any judgment on body shape. Instead, they are seen as just children playing and being themselves. The bright colors are eye-catching and joyous, rendering a celebratory effect to the whole book. While references to candy hearts, Cupid, and Valentines suggest that this is a seasonal book, its heartwarming message is enjoyable all year round.

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