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Cover image for So big!
So big!
New York : Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2019.
Physical Description:
32 unnumbered pages : color illustrations ; 29 cm
Just when a little bear starts to feel overwhelmed on his first day of school, he meets a new friend, and together they find the courage to overcome their fear.


Call Number
JP Wohnoutka

On Order



A simple, clever text paired with utterly adorable animal characters makes school-day jitters seem not so big after all!

Bear is so big, and he's ready to start school!

But even if you're SO BIG, you might feel a little nervous at times.

Can Bear brave his first day and find a way to make it feel just right ?

A clever and charming story, So Big! will help young readers through all the important first steps in life.

Acclaim for Dad's First Day
Bank Street Best Children's Books of 2016--outstanding merit title

Acclaim for Moo!
An ALA Notable book
A BCCB Blue Ribbon selection

Author Notes

MIKE WOHNOUTKA is the author and illustrator of Dad's First Day and the illustrator of many books including Moo! which received two starred reviews and was chosen as an ALA Notable book and by the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books as a Blue Ribbon selection , Can't Sleep Without Sheep, Just Like My Papa, and Stay Close to Mama. A graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design, Mike lives with his wife and two children in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Reviews 2

School Library Journal Review

PreS-K--Parents delight in asking their little ones, "How big is baby?" followed by "Sooooo big" as babies and toddlers throw their hands in the air in glorious response. This simple yet thought-provoking picture book takes the famous "So Big" and brings it to a new level. Bear is happy to be "so big," as he wakes up one morning and his calendar reminds him that it is the first day of school. He is so happy as he gets ready and makes it to the bus stop on his own. It isn't until the bus shows up that "so big" begins to take on a new meaning to bear. Everything seems "so big," and that's just too big for him to handle. It isn't until he meets his new friend Squirrel and they conquer their fears together that "so big" becomes just right. This book has very few words and much of it is just repeating "so big" in different contexts. The illustrations take readers on the adventure and allow for extrapolation of details and conversations between parent and child. A soft color palette of lifelike illustrations allows for the emotions of the characters to be felt by readers. VERDICT Even "big boys and girls" are allowed to feel nervous sometimes; most children can relate to the first day of school jitters. Recommended for general purchase for a public library's picture book collection as this would be a perfect read for a new kindergartner.--Kristen Todd-Wurm, Middle Country Public Library, NY

Kirkus Review

Using just six words, Wohnoutka manages to spin a complete school story. The sunshiny gouache illustrations do the heavy lifting, supporting the words "so," "big," "not," "too," "just," and "right" that are repeated throughout. The first spread shows Bear waking up in a sunny bedroom. A red star marks Sept. 4 on the wall calendar, and there's a backpack on the floor: "So big." Bear continues to feel capable and confident while dressing, eating breakfast, packing a bag, tying shoes, and standing at the bus stop (there is nary an adult in sight) next to a nervous elephant and squirrel. Then the bus arrives, dwarfing Bear, and this contrast and the font indicate a change: "SO big." The other students on the bus (rhino, hippo, giraffe) are "So BIG," and the school is "SO BIG!" Bear is suddenly "Not so big." But then Bear spies Squirrel, who is crying and feeling even smaller and less ready than Bear. Wordlessly, Bear, a model of empathy, holds out a hand, and together, the two brave the hallways, which are "Not so big," meet their teacher, and find that their classroom is "Just right!" Wohnoutka's animal cast is beautifully expressive, and his use of relative size within compositions is masterful, easily getting across to readers how the world feels to Bear and Squirrel.Even the most school-ready kid can have doubts, but with a friend, nothing will seem too big to handle. (Picture book. 3-6) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.