Monday, May 12, 2014

Point of View: Big Bug by Henry Cole

Who is big? How big is big?

It's all relative in Henry Cole's little essay on perspective in his newest, Big Bug (Little Simon Books, 2014).

Cole begins with a zoomed-in view of part of that popular polka-dotted bug, the ladybug. She looks enormous. But zoom out a little and she's quite small, dwarfed by the intricately veined, bright-green leaf upon which she sits.

But wait! There's more!

Zoom out further and the leaf looks sort of small on its big many-petaled daisy, and our ladybug is but a dot. But what is the daisy, compared to the big dog snoring beside the little flower?

With each page turn, Cole dramatically widens his lens. The dog is not so big next to a huge cow. Cows are really huge, right?

But on the next page Cole provides an even wider view, continuing to widen his view until his eye in the sky shows the whole farm in its proper perspective, large fenced fields, big barn, smaller farmhouse, even smaller cow, and tiny flower. The ladybug has shrunk out of sight! Oh, no!

But in a reassuring return to the micro view, Cole reverses his perspective and zooms back down to show his dog, taking a little nap, with the ladybug snug in her own world.

Notable artist Henry Cole seems to prefer farm settings for his humorous illustrations, but this one offers more than just funny pigs and chickens. It is itself a little lesson in relative size, perspective in mental concept as well as in drawing, narrated with words which teach the concept of size. Seeing the world from above is also a necessary mental concept toward understanding mapping, and this seemingly simple little book offers more than its cheery farm setting. Cole even sets the text within endpapers which reinforce his premise. The opening endpapers feature dozens and dozens of tiny ladybugs, while the ending papers show the now familiar black circle within its red carapace. This one is a mind-opening concept book for tots and an easy introduction to reading for the early emergent reader.

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