‘Pomelo’s Opposites’ and ‘Is It Big or Is It Little?’
By SARAH HARRISON SMITH
Published: July 17, 2013
The first few years of childhood seem marked by contrasts: babies are unequivocally small, adults are unquestionably large, and the area in between goes unexplored. But a little later in child development, those stark oppositions give way to more subtle comparisons. “Pomelo’s Opposites” and “Is It Big or Is It Little?,” two stylish new books for the preschool set, play with ideas of difference in ways that are sure to provoke thought and giggles.
In “Is It Big or Is It Little?,” the Colombian author Claudia Rueda approaches opposites from a different slant. The book has a chic, graphic look: if it were an outfit, you’d be proud to wear it into Hermès. The double-page spreads are colored exclusively in an urbane palette of persimmon, glossy black, cream and putty gray; a cat, dog, mouse and a couple of ants scamper across them, telling a little story about perspective as they go.
The world looks quite different to the perpetually anxious mouse than it does to his pursuer, the prowling cat: a puddle is deep, a ball of wool is big, the yarn is long. But the addition of a bulldog is a game-changer, and in the flip of a page the cat is transformed from scary to scared. Though brief, “Is It Big or Is It Little?” is attractive, funny and filled with exciting action; you may come away from it humming the tune to “The Pink Panther.” Rueda’s resourceful mouse has something in common with that charming cartoon creature.