Book Review: Big Problems, Little Problems

Written By Ben Feller, Illustrated by Mercè López

By Amanda Elshahawi, Creator, Enchanted Literacy August 23, 2022

Recommended Ages 4-8

A new release from local New Yorker, Ben Feller, teaches readers about navigating daily problems and the emotions that tend to tag along. Together a father and son take each difficulty and learn how to take steps to overcome and categorize between big and small problems. This picture book gives tangible meaning to the words; perspective, frustration and patience, with scenarios that are relatable to kids and adults.

The charming father and son have a secret handshake and rhythms that could mirror any family. When the child encounters a problem, not being able to zip his jacket, the dad helps him not only solve the problem but also to put it into perspective. Was it a big problem or a little problem? With this format, we watch the duo wander through several small problems. One of them is when Dad’s coffee is spilled over his work papers causing him to be late for work. Here, we see the tables turn as the son reminds his dad about all he has learned - take a step back and tackle the problem a little at a time. It’s all about perspective!

So often in picture books, especially discussing emotion, characters turn to their mother figures for guidance. I love that this pair is a father and son doing life together. The illustrations are also fabulous, adding just as much depth to each page as the written word. For this reason, I’d even recommend using the book as a reference for an art lesson. López draws the reader’s attention to finer points on the page with simple details, moving them through the story and illustrating emotions with color, lines and concepts.

Overall, I adored this book and my four-year-old enjoyed listening to it. She quickly pointed out the secret handshake they had and related to feelings of frustration. I recommend this book for your home library and every school library! Feller also provides further classroom resources that can be used by teachers or at home to pair with the book. 

Amanda is a preschool teacher, mother and avid Central Park picnicker. She values community and is an advocate for families in the foster care system. One day she hopes to publish a children's book of her own. In the meantime, you can follow her Instagram, Enchanted Literacy, which encourages imagination and passion for reading.