Sunday, 12 February 2017

I'm Big Enough

Welcome to the shadowy and not-so-shadowy space behind Sally's books. If you're not familiar with this blog, scroll down to see what it's all about.

I'm Big Enough (Post 43)

I'm Big Enough (2002/ 2007) is a picture book with a simple plot and a universal theme. Joey Hopalong, a young wallaby, is hopping along with his mother, heading for Wallaby Grove. Joey and Mum are natural bush wallabies. They eat vegetation, live in the bush and get about by hopping. At the same time, they are a mother and child. Joey has an ambition. He wants to hop alone to Wallaby Grove and meet his mother there. Mum, after offering a ride in her pouch, decides to let him have his bit of independence. She goes over the route with him, and then hops off ahead.

Along the way, Joey ticks off the landmarks; he also meets other animals who all ask why he's out alone. He assents he is "big enough" to hop alone, but the animals measure him against their expectations. When Possum discovers he can't hang by his tail, and Platypus finds out he can't catch a worm, and Wombat that he can't dig a burrow, they all decide he needs an escort.

Their assertions are so convincing Joey doubts himself, but then Cockatoo challenges him to prove he is big enough by flying.

Joey finally protests at this absurdity, and the other animals get the point. All ends happily when Joey hops proudly alone and meets his mum.

The themes of independence and using appropriate and personal yardsticks seem self-evident, but, as with a great many other themes, the second one could easily have gone wrong. It's clearly wrong to judge a wallaby by the standards of a cockatoo, or even a fellow marsupial such as a wombat or a possum, but this theme can't be pushed too far; imagine the fuss if it was implied Joey couldn't be judged capable because he was male or female, or if he lived at Big Rock instead of Pretty Creek!

Although they couldn't be more different in many ways, I'm Big Enough has a parallel with Post 10, Windsinger, in which two good people end up in a horrible situation because of a cultural misunderstanding. 

Initially, the characters Joey Hopalong met were named; the possum was Grandy Apple, the wombat was Nana Trundle and so on. It was felt these were too obscure, so in the published version they are simple Possum, Wombat, and Platypus. Joey kept his name because "Joey" is not only a name, but also a term for a young kangaroo or wallaby.

The hardback and paperback versions came out in around 2002, followed a few years later by a book with an attached CD rom which allowed for interactive reading. There was also a Korean edition.

About the Blog

Sally is Sally Odgers; author, manuscript assessor, editor, anthologist and reader. (Sally is me, by the way, and I am lots of other things too, but these are the relevant ones for now.)

The goal for 2017 is to write a post a day profiling the background behind one of my books; how it came to be written, what it's about, and any things of note that happened along the way. If you're an author, an aspiring author, a reader or just someone who enjoys windows into worlds, you might find this fun. This preamble will be pasted to the top of each post, so feel free to skip it in future.

The books are not in any special order, but will be assigned approximate dates, and pictures, where they exist. 

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