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No Matter What

by Debi Gliori


A young fox named Small poses questions to their parent, Large that explore philosophical themes like unconditional love, diversity and gender, and self-esteem.

“No Matter What” is a book about Small, a baby fox that doesn’t feel like they are loved. In response, Small’s parent, Large, tells Small that they love them, even if they turn into a bear, a crocodile, or even a bug. Small asks Large plenty of questions and learns that love comes in all shapes and sizes; and that most of all, Large loves them no matter what.

Read aloud video by Mrs. V’s Favorite Poems and Stories!

Guidelines for Philosophical Discussion

“No Matter What” by Debi Gliori is a heartwarming picture book that introduces children to moral themes of unconditional love, diversity and gender, and self-esteem. Small has low self-esteem and doesn’t feel loved, prompting them to ask Large many questions that test the limits of their love. Through analogies and funny hypotheticals, Large tells Small that they will love them no matter what; unconditionally and forever.

Throughout the story, Small learns of their parent’s unconditional love for them expressed in the form of reassurances. In this book, a parent’s love for their child is limitless and doesn’t die, but the scenarios that Small proposes can help children begin critically thinking about the limits of love (if there are any) and when/where they should be placed. Children explore the different forms of love (romantic, parental, etc.) that can be expressed or received, and talk about when we should show love to others. Further discussion can stem from the limits of love, especially whether it is possible to love someone after they have hurt you (such as whether you should or can still love someone after they have lied to you) and the concept of love extending past death.

Small asks whether Large will love them if they turned into different creatures. In the discussion a connection can be made to the unconditional love of parents with children that have disorders such as autism or schizophrenia. These children are often unjustly seen as “abnormal” by others in society, and it should be emphasized to children that even if you are different, you can still be worthy and deserving of unconditional love. Difference should not be a barrier for love.

Gliori does not assign pronouns to Small or Large in the book, which allows for a discussion on gender and the socially constructed stereotypes that are associated with women and men. Here, children can discuss the differences between masculine and feminine forms of love, and whether they believe one is more powerful or valuable than the other.

Large reassures Small that they are on the receiving end of plenty of love. However, Small still seems to lack self-love. Children often struggle with developing and strengthening their self-esteem, and this book provides an introduction to figuring out where love for oneself lies along the spectrum of unconditional love, and how we can or should balance it with the love for others. Children can also explore whether you need love from others to feel loved or if the only love you need is the love for yourself. It is important to touch on the importance of self-love, especially when coming to strengthening relationships with yourself and others.

Questions for Philosophical Discussion

Unconditional Love

“Still they shine in the evening skies. Love, like starlight, never dies.”

  1. What does it mean to love unconditionally?
  2. Does Large love Small unconditionally? How do you know?
  3. What does love look like? Does it bend or break? Can you fix it?
  4. Can you love someone who is different from you?
  5. Can you love someone even after they die? Why or why not?
  6. Do you need a reason to love someone?


“But if I turned into a bug, would you still love me and give me a hug?”

  1. Why does Large love Small even if Small turns into a bug or bear?
  2. Is there something that Small could turn into where Large would not love them?
  3. How would it feel to live in a world where everyone was the same? Would you like it? Why or why not?
  4. Can you only love things/people that are similar to you? Why or why not?
  5. Does Large seem more like a mother or father? Is there any difference in how they would treat Small?
  6. Do mothers only have to do ‘motherly’ things? Can fathers do ‘motherly’ things?
  7. Does being a mother or father come with different roles or duties? Why are these roles the way they are? Could they be switched?


“I’m a grim and grumpy little Small and nobody loves me at all.”

  1. Why does Small not feel loved?
  2. What does Large do to make Small feel loved?
  3. Have you ever felt like you weren’t loved? How does it make you feel?
  4. When do you feel like you are loved? How does that make you feel?
  5. What are some things you do to take care of yourself?
  6. What makes you special? When do you feel most proud of yourself?
  7. Do you need other people to feel happy?
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Back to All Books Color illustration of No Matter What by Debi Gliori featuring a smiling fox holding and hugging and smaller fox who is dangling a toy chicken on a string Download & Print Email Book Module

About the Prindle Institute

As one of the largest collegiate ethics institutes in the country, the Prindle Institute for Ethics’ uniquely robust national outreach mission serves DePauw students, faculty and staff; academics and scholars throughout the United States and in the international community; life-long learners; and the Greencastle community in a variety of ways. In 2019, the Prindle Institute partrnered with Thomas Wartenberg and became the digital home of his Teaching Children Philosophy discussion guides.

Further Resources

Some of the books on this site may contain characterizations or illustrations that are culturally insensitive or inaccurate. We encourage educators to visit the Association for Library Service to Children’s resource guide for talking to children about issues of race and culture in literature. They also have a guide for navigating tough conversations.  PBS Kids’ set of resources for talking to young children about race and racism might also be useful for educators.

Philosophy often deals with big questions like the existence of a higher power or death. Find tips for leading a philosophical discussion on our resources page.

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