Big Bear and Little Fish @LernerBooks

Wishing a “Big” happy book birthday for Sandra Nickel’s newest picture book Big Bear and Little Fish, illustrated by Il Sung Na.

Big Bear wants to win a teddy bear at the carnival, but instead she ends up with Little Fish. She has very fixed ideas about what Little Fish can be and do, and she doesn’t think Little Fish can “measure up” as a friend. Will Little Fish be able to change her mind?

The illustrations are full of subtle delightful details. Children will probably notice some of them, like the fact Little Fish has books in her fish bowl (a lovely nod to books and reading). Perhaps less obvious are the changes in size of Big Bear and Little Fish from spread to spread, which shows “Big” and “Little” can be relative.  To me, the vegetation outside Big Bear’s house resembles seaweed shapes. Is that to emphasize that Big Bear and Little Fish’s environments are not that different?  Let me know if it struck you, too.

All in all, Big Bear and Little Fish is a gentle and very timely reminder that friends may come in unexpected packages. Share a copy with a new friend today!


Activity Suggestions:

Visit Sandra Nickel’s Resources page for a Big-Bear-sized collection of activity sheets to accompany the book.

Sandra Nickel is an award-winning author of picture books. She is honored to be the winner of a Christopher Award, the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators Crystal Kite Award, a two-time winner of the Katherine Paterson Prize for picture books, and a finalist for the Golden Kite Award for Nonfiction for Younger Readers. She holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and has presented workshops on writing for children and young adults throughout Europe and the United States. When at home in Switzerland, Sandra loves ambling and rambling and eating carrot muffins just as much as Bear and Fish do. To learn more about Sandra, visit her fabulous website at

Il Sung Na was born in Seoul, South Korea. In 2001, he moved to London to pursue a BFA in Illustration and Animation at Kingston University, where he discovered a passion for children’s books. He completed his MFA Illustration Practice at MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art) in 2015. Il Sung has illustrated several books including Wild Peace, My Tree, and ZZZZ: A Book of Sleep. Currently based in Kansas City, Il Sung teaches illustration courses at KCAI (Kansas City Art Institute) and works on new books.
Instagram: @ilsungna

Reading age ‏ : ‎ 4 – 8 years
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Carolrhoda Books ® (September 6, 2022)
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1728417171
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1728417172

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