So Light, So Heavy
Susanne Strasser, author
Susanne Strasser is the author and illustrator of several children's books in her home country of Germany.
- CCBC Choices 2019
Kirkus Reviews, starred review
The teeter-totter won't tip no matter how many animals are on it. What will it take to make the teeter-totter tip? An elephant stands on one end of a teeter-totter, hoping to play, but the other end is empty, so it doesn't tip. One by one, a number of animals climb on: a penguin, a monkey, an ostrich, and a giraffe. And still the teeter-totter won't tip. "Elephant is so heavy," and the other animals "are so light." Even when a hippopotamus climbs on it doesn't tip—now both sides are equally weighted. A humorous and unexpected solution comes along in the shape of a trumpet-blowing blond, white child pulling along a sauropod on a leash. Standing against an azure blue background, the vivid red teeter-totter takes center stage, its fulcrum aligned with the gutter. The animals are simply drawn yet wonderfully expressive, and their antics on the teeter-totter are downright comical. This English translation from the original German is full of alliteration and onomatopoeic sounds—"ZOOP!"; "ZIPPITY ZAP!"; "TIPPY TOPPY TIP TAP!"—making it a read-aloud delight. Adult readers can encourage animal recognition and naming, prediction, or even a discussion on teamwork and physics. Such a heavyweight for such a light little book—delightful.
German-author-illustrator Strasser pictures a stocky gray elephant standing expectantly on a teeter-totter. Lively exclamations ramp up expectations: "Zippity zap! Monkey climbs onto the teeter totter. But the teeter-totter still won't tip. Penguin and Monkey are so light. An Elephant is so heavy.” After several other animals hop on, “finally the teeter-totter teeters!” But now it’s evenly balanced — until two final visitors (a child and a dinosaur) get the job done. Strasser contrasts the vivid red teeter-totter with a turquoise background, and her eclectic animal cast provides an amusing introduction to the concepts of weight, balance, and opposites.
An elephant clambers onto a teeter-totter, but how will he get it moving? First penguin climbs on, but he’s too light; then monkey; then ostrich, giraffe, and hippo—finally, all of them together raise the elephant off the ground, but they’re at a standstill. That is, until a child with a trumpet startles the whole menagerie (that’s one way to get a teeter-totter going). Strasser’s bright cartoon artwork nicely illustrates the concepts of light and heavy, with the bulky elephant occupying the left-hand page and the animals balancing out his weight on the right. Onomatopoeia and a repetitive refrain give this board book great read-aloud potential, too.
Page count: 22
7 x 7