Sunday, June 27, 2021

Review: Can You See Me? by Gökçe İrten


A Book About Feeling Small
Kids Can Press
Picture Book
46 pages
ages 4 to 8


For kids starting to think about their place in the world, here's a unique look at point of view. Being small --- or big --- is not always what we think it is!We all know which things are big, and which are small, right? Buildings, streets, cities: big. Paper clips, daisies, teaspoons: small. But are they really? Or do things look different, depending on who's doing the looking? Take an orangutan. To a human, it's small, like a child. But to a flea, it's gigantic! And imagine how scary a chicken looks to an ant! In this unconventional and original introduction to the idea of perspective, children learn the importance of recognizing that everyone has their own way of seeing things. And how, though bigness is in the eye of the beholder, all of us are just the right size!
Gökçe İrten's quirky and innovative picture book provides a fun way for young children to explore the world through the eyes of those who see it quite differently than they do. It could be used to spark discussions on feeling small, or big, in the world, and on both empathy for others and self-acceptance. Mixing drawings, photographs and collage, İrten's distinctive art brings a lighthearted touch to the pages. Comparative facts about the smallest animals --- if you could jump as high as a flea, you could reach the top of the Eiffel Tower! --- encourage respect for the countless tiny creatures in the world, many of whom have characteristics far more impressive than ours.

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Some things are big, and small are small in a fun book, which shows how this comparison can be flipped on its head depending on the perspective.

The feeling of being too small hits front and center in these pages as the author explores what exactly small and big mean. By taking various objects, comparing them, and then throwing them into a whole new comparison, the idea of small and big become a matter of perspective...and it's shown that even when something is bigger, that doesn't mean it's more important or 'better'.

The illustrations in this one are fun to gaze at all on their own. It's a whimsical mix of painted/printed art and realistic objects, giving an almost 3-D appearance at times. There are little details to look through and simpler scenes as well, and unexpected bits of humor thrown in, too. The difference in sizes is brought across clearly and makes it exciting to discover what objects will come next....and these are definitely unexpected.

The text is kept on the lighter side, making it an easy read aloud and keeps boredom at bay. The explanations are short and allow the illustrations to meld in to demonstrate the message of big and small. Still, there are a couple more difficult concepts thrown in, which will probably leave younger listeners a little baffled. The older end of the intended age group will feel more at ease on this end. 

It's a lovely book with a well placed message, and if nothing else, is intriguing and humorous as it takes the ideas of big and small, and shows how these descriptions aren't necessarily always right.

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