picture from kristiyamaguchi.com
When I first heard that one of my long-time heroes, Kristi Yamaguchi, was writing a picture book, I was both excited and nervous. Excited because for one thing, there aren’t enough books out there for kids that feature figure skating. Ballet, yes. Skating, no. Also excited because it was Kristi! I was nervous, though, because excellence in one area doesn’t always translate to excellence in another. Not all figure skaters make great writers, and as a writer myself, I knew I would be hyper-critical.
I shouldn’t have worried. Dream Big, Little Pig is a fantastic book! Instead of what I would arrogantly call typical inspirational tripe, gallant little Poppy taught an important lesson. You aren’t going to magically be good at something and have everything handed to you on a silver platter just because you dreamed it – but if you love something, you should work hard and pursue it despite what other people say, and in that very pursuit there will be satisfaction. Awesome. My sister bought the book for my Joy when Joy just started skating, and I loved being able to read to her about how Poppy kept getting up every time she fell, and how eventually, she started falling less.
So when we heard that Kristi was writing a sequel titled It’s a Big World, Little Pig, we were thrilled. And rightly so, because the sequel is just as charming as the first book. Aunt Lis and Uncle David bought this one for Joy to help celebrate her completion of her first season of skating lessons, and again, it is a fun story (with great illustrations) with an non-sterotypical message behind it. Poppy gets to go to a big international competition, and she’s nervous, but soon discovers that all the competitors, despite being different animals from different countries, participating in different sports, they “all smile in the same language.” I half-listened as Carl read it to Joy and Grace the first time, and I asked when he finished “But did Poppy win?” All three rolled their eyes at me. “It doesn’t say,” Carl said. “That is not the point.”
Not every athlete or actor can turn to writing stories, especially stories for kids, well, but Kristi certainly does. She inspires me to look at my own stories, and make sure I’m not falling into the trap of writing expected tropes, but instead pursue messages I would want my own girls to believe.
And to be perfectly honest, Poppy is a good inspiration to me, too – to not expect magical success, or to expect success to look like wild popularity or medals, but to work hard at what I love, just because I love it.
My big dreamer at her very first ice show (she’s the one in front)
Disclaimer: I am not being compensated in any way for this review, and the opinions therein are solely my own. And my children’s, so far as they have communicated them to me. :-)