When I Am Bigger: Counting Numbers Big and Small

Image of When I Am Bigger: Counting Numbers Big and Small
Release Date: 
September 20, 2021
Princeton Architectural Press (Children's Books)
Reviewed by: 

“three cheers for a counting book for the big(ger) kids!”

When I Am Bigger, deftly written and illustrated by Maria Dek, begins with, “When I am bigger, I will have nine ideas every second." The next page reveals a new character affirming, “When I am bigger, I will start the day with 11 special dance moves.” Next page, “When I am bigger, I will build a magnificent robot that can do 16 different things.” Each page introduces another member of this diverse group of counters, all on a journey together in a blue station wagon.

Counting concepts are usually found in board book format for very young children in their quest to learn numbers one through ten. This 46-page picture book sets out to pleasantly challenge a slightly older reader, or the child who is ready to take on higher double-digits.

Dek’s previous book, When I Am Big, ended the counting at number 25. But three cheers for a counting book for the big(ger) kids! Her latest story pushes the reader onward and upward, all the way to 100, while imparting a wish list full of fanciful possibilities for “when I am bigger.” Children will likely pause to count the items on each page. But no worries if they don’t get the correct number, there will be plenty of opportunity to try, try again. Or rather, read, read again.

When I Am Bigger offers an atypical list of items to count: snails, baby hedgehogs, sticks, rain splashes, cuddly creatures, dance moves . . . It spurs the reader on to discover that counting can be done anywhere with almost anything.

Besides all the counting, children will delight in creating their very own “When I am bigger” lists. And everyone else may want to join in, too, because who doesn’t have big plans for when they are “bigger”?

Maria Dek’s pleasing artwork and palette are reminiscent of European folk and textile art. The result is sheer delight. She lives and works in a quaint village tucked in one of the last remaining primeval forests in Europe. Check out Maria Dek’s other books, When I Am Big and Walk in the Forest. Lovely.