7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #351: Featuring Ingrid Godon

h1 October 6th, 2013 by jules

“It’s raining outside, but not too much. Just as much as it needs to, thinks the big one as he watches the little one run ahead of him toward the water. The big one thinks just how much he loves this little one, with his funny ideas and his funny boots. He can’t remember if he also had these kinds of ideas in his head when he was still little.”
(Click to enlarge spread)


Happy Sunday, all.

Have you all been following the picture book coverage at the New York Times? There is a new children’s book editor over there, Sarah Harrison Smith, and I like her taste in picture books.

Case-in-point: Just this week she wrote here about the book I’m featuring today. The book is Sylvie Neeman’s Something Big, illustrated by Ingrid Godon (Enchanted Lion, September 2013), an import originally published in 2012 as Quelque Chose de Grand. Neeman is Swiss, and Godon was born in Belgium. This one was translated by Claudia Zoe Bedrick.

This is the story of an adult and child (“the big one” and “the little one”) and an intimate snapshot of their day. The big one is clearly a caretaker of some sort; I assume it is the boy’s father, but it could be a grandfather or uncle. The young boy is troubled, because he wants to “do something big.” As the boy attempts to explain what he means, he gets increasingly frustrated, as he finds it difficult to nail what he means with just the right words. For instance, when he says that maybe “it looks a little like a lighthouse by the ocean,” since “it has the ocean all around it and there’s light at night,” the adult suggests that what the boy wants is to build a lighthouse by the ocean. Nope. As adults are wont to do, he’d misunderstood altogether, but he’s really only trying to help the boy suss out what he means.

“…’Something big?’ he asks. ‘Big like what? Like a mountain?’
‘Uhn-uh, not a mountain,’ giggles the little one. ‘That’s way too big!’
‘Like an elephant?’ The little one thinks for a minute, takes a bite of toast and says,
‘No, not like an elephant. That’s too gray. …”

(Click to enlarge)

“You want to do something big but it’s hard because you’re still little, isn’t that right?” he finally asks.


They head out for a walk, strolling along a shoreline, continuing to talk. Neeman peppers the narrative with gentle, introspective moments like: “The big one thinks just how much he loves this little one, with his funny ideas and his funny boots. He can’t remember if he also had these kinds of ideas in his head when he was still little.” (This is the spread pictured at the top of this post.) The child finally acknowledges that when he looks at the ocean, he feels like he’ll be able to do something big. And, as you can see below, he just might have an opportunity to experience that something big before the book’s close.

“Walking carefully, the little one returns to the sand, heads for the ocean, and goes into the waves. He takes several more steps before letting go of the fish. He lingers there for a moment with his eyes glues to the water, just in case the fish comes up for a swim. When the little one comes out of the water he is soaked through and shivering. The hand he puts into the big one’s is damp and cold. …”
(Click to enlarge)

“They walk in silence, looking at the sand and listening to the ocean. After a moment, the big one says: ‘You know, I think you just did something big.’ ‘You think so?’ asks the little one, staring at his pant cuffs, which have become heavier and heavier with wet sand, making it more and more difficult to walk. ‘I’m sure of it,’ says the big one, lifting the little one up into his arms. And he carries him all the way home.”
(Click to enlarge)

Godon’s art—which, as you can see in the art featured here today, is a cousin in style to the illustrations of Chris Raschka—is as emotionally resonant as the text. In one striking spread, we see the boy seated in frustration, and there are nearly scribbled lines trying to enclose him. The text reads: “The big one suddenly wants to hold the little one in his arms, but he doesn’t dare because he feels that the little one doesn’t really want a hug at the moment. First they have to resolve the problem of big things.”

As Smith wrote at the New York Times:

There’s an honest intimacy to the conversations between the small one and the big one that ring true; reading them, one realizes how rare they are in the realm of picture books, which so often seek to comfort or simply amuse.


This is precisely why I really like this book, this tender story that gives us a glimpse into both sides — the wonder of a child and the devotion of a parent, with all the complexities therein.

SOMETHING BIG. First American Edition published in 2013 by Enchanted Lion Books, New York. Translated by Claudia Zoe Bedrick. Translation copyright © 2013 by Enchanted Lion Books. All illustrations here are used with permission of the publisher.

* * * * * * *

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) My girls and I are finally reading Kevin Henkes’ newest children’s novel, The Year of Billy Miller. And it’s thoroughly delightful, especially as a read-aloud.

2) When I think of that beautiful and very short woodworking scene with Jesse in the series finale of Breaking Bad, I nearly start weeping. That was just a touch of brilliance right there on the part of Vince Gilligan.

3) Compliments from people whom you respect and whose compliments mean something, ’cause they don’t hand ’em out for free.

4) I lined up a speaking gig (librarians’ conference) for early next year in Alabama. I haven’t been to that state in twenty years, which is neither here nor there, but speaking at conferences like that is always good for a gumption-check.

5) Seeing my 9-year-old’s excitement over saving up her money and then picking out just the perfect gift for her little sister’s birthday.

6) Sam, singing my favorite song from this year:

7) I may or may not be heading to the ocean as you’re reading this. I particularly like this from the book featured today:

“When I look at the ocean,” says the little one, “I feel like it’s possible… Like I’ll be able to do something big. Do you feel that way, too?”

“I do,” replies the big one. “The ocean, the sky, the mountains—they give us that feeling.”

What are YOUR kicks this week?

17 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #351: Featuring Ingrid Godon”

  1. Good morning everyone!
    Oh, I do love this book! It goes straight to your heart. I like how the big one allows the little one to discover on his own but offers support.

    Jules: If you are heading to the ocean, have a wonderful day. How very sweet of your one daughter saving to get the ultimate gift for the other. Hugs all around.

    My kicks:
    1. Watching the leaves change color.
    2. Picking nasturtiums to bring inside.
    3. A cozy fire in the fireplace when it’s raining outside.
    4. The smell of pumpkin chocolate chip bread baking
    5. Friends
    6. Walking in falling leaves
    7. Snuggling with Xena

    Have a great week.

  2. Margie: I wish I could visit (yes, I just invited myself over) and have pumpkin chocolate chip bread with you after a walk to see falling leaves and then enjoy that fire.

    Note to self: Next house must have fireplace.

  3. Good morning, Imps! I hope you all had a kickin’ week. This is a fly-by, because I’m on the way to set. (I booked a short film.) Woo hoo!

    Margie: Pumpkin chocolate chip bread sounds delicious.

    Have fun at the ocean, Jules!

  4. Hi kickers, I love books that involve the ocean. The ocean can make you feel like the little one.
    Jules, how sweet of oldest to get youngest a gift from own money. Yes to that Jesse scene. The whole last episode of Braking Bad was brilliant.
    Margie, fall colors are arriving here. Yum, to the chocolate chip pumpkin bread.
    LW, congrats on booking a short film. Woot.
    My kicks:
    1. Fall leaves.
    2. Haiku for Poetry Friday captured fall leaves.
    3. CYBILS nominations are open. Go nominate a book.
    4. Starting my Sunday here.
    5. Feed back from my critique partners.
    6. Finished Gone Girl.
    7. My writing group.
    Have a great week.

  5. Congrats, Little Willow! Break a leg.

    Hi, Jone. I’ll go find your haiku. How was Gone Girl?

  6. Jules, thank you so much for sharing Something Big. I hope to read it soon! And awww, re: your kick #5.

    My kicks:

    The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

    I have lost a lot of weight and people keep complimenting me, YAY!

  7. Hello, Kickers!

    Running through here for now, hope to be back in a little while. I have a toilet calling me downstairs right now (which is nowhere near what your giggling little scatological curling-lip brains just imagined, I am pleased to report: the repair of the appurtenance in question just needs to be finalized). (That “just” marks an optimistic claim if I ever saw one.)

    But in reading the kicks here so far, I thought that others might like to know (as I did, per jone’s #3) where to learn more about nominating a CYBILS book. Answer: here. Public nominations close on 10/15.

    With that… If you haven’t heard from me in another few hours, it means the rip tide’s got me. Call out the lifeguards.

  8. Tarie: I’ll have to add that one to my reading list.

    John: I’m looking for JUST the right toilet-themed joke. Guess I need more coffee.

  9. So….

    Very much likelikelike today’s book, Jules! A funny thing, when I first read the image captions (before reading the post itself): I thought it was a dialogue between a guy’s older self and his kid-self. This seemed reinforced by the artwork, which (in a few cases) superimposes the two characters in a way which makes them big and little versions of the same character…

    But I like the REAL thing it’s depicting, too!

    (I sometimes wonder if my adult self had known my dad’s kid self: would we have “clicked”?)

    Thank you for the Sam dose, too, Jules!

    Margie, one of my niece-in-laws just complained on FB that one of the few things which makes her regret living in the countryside is autumn leaves. (I told her it helped to imagine each leaf to be a My Little Pony.) But, apparently like you, I prefer the leaves!

    LW: congrats on the reason for the fly-by!

    Hi jone… glad to hear you’re appreciating the group’s feedback. Good for them and good for you!

    Tarie, I’m not even able to comprehend that you’ve lost a “lot of” weight. You’ve always seemed so… so… diminutive. Sprightly, maybe?

    Kicks here:
    1. Productivity
    2. Intended changes
    3. Taking chances
    4. Shrimp cocktail
    5. Vernor Vinge’s science fiction
    6. Hearing somebody tell me I’m smart and knowing that right then, in the context of that specific moment, I sort of agree with them. (Of course, this is ALWAYS followed by another moment in which I hear — let alone agree with — no such thing.)
    7. Alas, we’ve missed the window of time this year. But perhaps next year Jules can wangle this place for the first 7-Impfest… Not, also alas, a Wonderland theme. But maybe it’d still work.

    Have a great week, all!

  10. Jules, I hope you and your family have a great time at the beach! And so sweet about the gift buying. I still remember how excited I was to buy one of my little sisters the perfect present when we were children (and still am, to be honest)

    Margie, your kicks are so nice and autumnal!

    John, you put number 6 well! I didn’t know people in other countries called strong ocean currents rips. They are a bit too common on our beaches and it often seems to be tourists who are sucked out to sea by them. (am glad that no such thing happened to you as evidenced by your reappearance).

    Jone, what a good way to put it, the ocean can make you feel like the little one.

    1. The free range pig people at the farmer’s market had two piglets with them yesterday, one only 1.5 weeks old. RIDICULOUSLY CUTE.
    2. Some slightly cooler weather (we’ve had the hottest September on record in our state, mostly days in the 80s & 90s) allowed me to sneak Rowan into a couple of cute warmer outfits I thought he wouldn’t get to wear before he outgrew them
    3. We finally fixed a fence that our adventurous chook could have gotten through (we had been using a dodgy temp fence)
    4. My sister who just returned from her honeymoon dropped us some meals for our freezer, and really thoughtfully made them vegetarian. Obviously I am super grateful for all the meals people have helped us out with but it was so nice for her to remember that I often eat meat-free meals.
    5. A nice coffee shop let the parents group I’m in use a room for as long as we like once a week for catching up
    6. When I drafted this list last night I had just finished a “virgin cosmopolitan” (cranberry juice, lemonade & fresh lime), yum
    7. It’s a public holiday here today!

  11. Hey there Imps!

    This book looks beautiful. I’m going to have to keep an eye on the NY Times for more reviews.
    Ingrid’s images are lovely. I am a fan of the layered lines of the characters.

    Jules – Yes, the ocean. I was recently thinking that the Atlantic Ocean is my therapist. I am so glad to have the beaches nearby even in the winter.
    Margie – Pumpkin choc. bread will have to be on the menu when we have our picnic at the abandoned Wizard of Oz park.
    LW- Congrats on the short film. I’m sure you’ll rock.
    Tarrie – You look great from here.
    emmaco – The playgroup I went to when my kids were little kept me sane and I am still good friends with most of the people I met there.

    1. pencil drawing
    2. ink drawing
    3. digital drawing
    4. #inktober is fun to participate in and to follow.
    5. Pumpkin Beer
    6. Breaking Bad Finale!
    7. This morning I woke to find that the actor, Steven Michael Quezada that played Agent Steve “Gomie” Gomez on Breaking Bad shared a drawing I did of his character that I had posted on Instagram. http://instagram.com/p/ebTIdClP05/#
    Made my day.

    Hope you are all well and are having a great October.

  12. Oh Margie, I really hope that, as you wrote your kicks, chocolate chip pumpkin bread was baking. I am inspired, you know. Moira, that’s pretty cool that Mr. Quezeda shared your drawing! I agree with Jules that the short scene of Jesse with the wooden box was poignant.

    My kicks for the week:
    1. After hours of practicing, my blues shuffle in A doesn’t suck quite as badly as it did before. But then, I might be optimistic. I’m doing a LOT of pinky stretching and am having to ergonomic exercises to avoid cramping and strain.

    2. Angus Young of AC/DC on YouTube, when talking about his style of playing, says a few times, “I’m a little guy” [therefore these are the accommodations I have to do]. Both Young brothers are 5’2″ (with “eyes of blue!”), but are guitar powerhouses.

    3. A friend of mine and I are going to see The Waterboys this Friday night! There is a scant possibility I’ll be able to see them twice that day, but that would definitely be a bonus kick.

    4. Good friends.

    5. A new ukulele.

    6. Speaking of ukuleles, my husband consented to plunk the chords to “We’re Going to Be Friends” while I called out the chord changes. For example: “D!” can tell that “C!” are going to be “G!”

    7. I sewed a seahorse patch on one of my guitar gig bags.

    Happy week, everyone! –FSD


  13. Hi Jules and Imps – this is a flyby since I’ve been MIA for a few weeks, work and life have been a bit hectic. Love this book, already have a few people in mind I need to get it for.

    Jules love that the oldest is so sweet thoughtful about her younger sister. Have fun at the beach!

    Great kicks this week – my one kick – having a few minutes to stop by and read this and everyone’s kicks.

    Have a great week everyone!

  14. Back soon, promise. We really DID go to the beach, and its hard to read and comment on a maddeningly tiny phone.

  15. beautifull illustrations and story

  16. I’m back. I’m here. I swear.

    John: You’re one of the top-five smartest people I know! Also, the abandoned Oz park is both neat and … well, YIGGEDY, as Eisha would say.

    Emmaco, good kicks, good week. …. Speaking of ocean currents, my oldest, who is normally so physically timid and un-adventurous would keep walking (and keep walking and keep walking) out into the ocean, making me worry about those currents you speak of.

    Moira, I LOVE how Gomie shared your image!

    Farida, I wish I were your date for The Waterboys’ show. So excited for you. Also, I love your kicks.

    Hi, Rachel. Hope hectic is good-hectic.

    Hi, Aida.

  17. […] So, on the first Sunday of each month here at 7-Imp, I feature either student illustrators or illustrators brand-spankin’-new to the field, and I just completely blanked on the first Sunday of October — though, to be sure, it was a treat to see the work of Ingrid Godon. […]

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