Why is it that as children, we can't seem to grow fast enough? And when exactly do we "get big"? Beloved children's author Margaret Park Bridges asks the same question in her latest book, Am I Big or Little?. A young child is trying to understand how she can be big and little at the same time. She asks her mother, who gives her practical answers; for example, she is still young enough to "want dessert all day long," but big enough to be willing to "wait for it." On and on, Tracy Dockray's gentle, playful watercolors show the happy bond between parent and child as they explore this abstract idea in concrete ways. For parents with little ones "growing" impatient, this is a wonderful book to share.

The central character in another new book is also impatient about growing, and learns that growing is not always a physical action. Andrea Shavick's You'll Grow Soon, Alex (Walker &and Co., $15.95, ISBN 0802787363) helps children understand that when the spurts aren't showing on the outside, let them shine through from the inside. Alex was fed up with folks patting him on the head and calling him Shorty. He dreamed about growing tall; he tried to eat right, get some exercise, and stretch himself every day. He sought advice from everyone his father, his mother, his teacher and finally, his very tall Uncle Danny.

Uncle Danny knew that being tall wasn't always a great thing, either. Cars and doorways simply aren't conducive to the exceptionally tall (which definitely explains Danny's lumpy forehead). So Uncle Danny decided that Alex should shift his focus a little, and concentrate on getting the most from life. There's no comparing such wonderful experiences as eating a popsicle in a bubble bath, or telling a good joke, or even smiling. So while Alex remained among the un-tall, he discovered something else about himself instead.

Now there's a couple for good measure.

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