Material from Hewitt Anderson's Great Big Life by Jerdine Nolen copyright © 2005, Illustrations copyright © 2005 by Kadir Nelson. Used by permission of Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division
Hewitt Anderson is an average sized boy born into a family of great height and girth. His parents have a belief that big things are best. Despite his size, Hewitt is nurtured, cherished and included in all aspects of their daily lives. When his parents go out for strolls, Hewitt sits in their intertwined hands or on the brim of his mother's hat or in his father's pocket. Hewitt is so small that he can fit in the palm of his father's hand. He enjoys falling asleep there while being serenading by his parents' beautiful voices.
Survival Lesson 1 - Swimming. When his parents attempt to teach Hewitt to swim, an accident causes a huge wave which sends Hewitt sailing into the garden maze. While searching for Hewitt in the maze, they themselves get lost. Ultimately, it is Hewitt that guides his parents safely out.
The kids and I have been very delighted with Jerdine Nolen's endearing story of unconditional parental love. The language is quite sophisticated and vocabulary rich which provides an opportunity to advance my childrens' own vocabulary. Words such as "miniature, stature, girth, resplendent, aria, gargantuan, mammoth and spontaneously," are liberally sprinkled throughout. The book is also longer and more complex than the average picture book, which provides the challenge that my kids need.
I have mentioned previously that Kadir Nelson is one of my favorite illustrators. His art always exudes such warmth. You can feel the mutal love between adorable, diminutive Hewitt and his giant parents. Nelson also illustrated Salt in His Shoes and Please, Baby Please which I featured. As an African American family, I am always on the lookout for great books that allow my children to see themselves reflected positively. Hewitt Anderson's Great Big Life fits the bill.