Review Blog

Oct 23 2008

Big and me by David Miller

cover image

Ford St, 2008.
(Age 7+) Highly recommended. Congratulations to the author on tackling such a difficult topic as mental illness in a sensitive and moving way. Big and Small are machines that work together as a team. 'But some days Big goes a bit wobbly', and Small gets 'a lot worried.' With the assistance of The Boss and Mechanic, Big gets some medicine to help him get better.

The book is a wonderful metaphor for a young child living with someone who is mentally unwell. It is not difficult to substitute an adult for Big and the story goes through many of the things that a young child would see when living with an unstable person. Sometimes the pair work as 'a good team, the best', but sometimes Big does strange and frightening things. Medicine helps Big, but when he is convinced that he doesn't need it any longer, the world becomes 'grey and dull'. As Boss explains, it is not Small's fault that Bgi's computer is not working properly and this explanation should help relieve children's fears about being the cause of a parent or care giver's strange actions. The author doesn't avoid the big issues in this book and it will be a tremendous help for both children and adults in understanding mental health problems.

Miller has illustrated this book with fantastic paper sculptures of big and small machines set against vivid backgrounds of ochre and dark blue. They are a treat in themselves and their close examination will give lots of enjoyment, as well as adding to the meaning of the text.

The book ends on a positive but realistic note - Big will always have problems but with medicine will be OK most of the time. This is a book that has a place in all libraries.
Pat Pledger

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