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Friday, September 6, 2019

Can You See Me? by Bob Staake

Can You See Me? 
by Bob Staake 
book cover
A fair skinned, blonde child and a dark skinned, brown haired child observe the shenanigans of a dinosaur-esque creature as it cavorts around town changing colors and patterns to blend into the surroundings. The rhyming text zips along as the creature turns blue to swim in a pool with a kangaroo, white to hide in the curve of a cloud, and so on until it catches a red balloon and it’s off to the moon. “But I’ll return soon” it shouts as it floats away. 

There’s much to appreciate in this book that’s reminiscent of Robert Lopshire’s Put Me in the Zoo (but without the bizarre ambition of a marvelous creature begging to be locked up in the zoo). The stellar attributes are the rhyming text paired with helpful visual context clues. For instance, in this spread the creature is hiding in a tree with text that reads, “Can you find me / in this tree? / I’m leafy green / and hard to see.” 

Image of creature hiding in a circular tree while two children look on from Can You See Me? by Bob Staake

Many of the sections also give readers a chance to work on letter sounds and blends, such as this spread that repeats the “ink” suffix. “Now I’m pink. / Now I am / as black as ink!” 


Image of a pink creature hiding against an exterior building wall and a black creature hiding in the asphalt of a road from Can You See Me? by Bob Staake

The text is mostly written in first person, from the animal’s perspective, although twice the children chime in a chorus, “We can see you / hiding there! / We can see you / ANYwhere!” 

Image of a yellow creature hiding inside a grocery store from Can You See Me? by Bob Staake

On the other hand, there are a few elements that might throw off new readers. Although rhyming lines can help readers predict words,in this case the scheme creates line breaks in illogical and potentially unhelpful places. New readers may also find the sophisticated punctuation (ellipses, dashes, and parentheticals) unfamiliar and challenging. There’s also the vocabulary; there’s a lot of it! The clues in the illustrations are thoughtful, yet the number of unfamiliar words (“checkered”, “wheat”, “daredevil pilot”) and the lack of word repetition may frustrate new readers. 

Image of a purple creature flying in an airplane and a blue creature holding a red balloon from Can You See Me? by Bob Staake

All in all, this title has a lot of cover appeal, as well as a supportive rhyme scheme and visual context clues. However, there are a few weaker elements that may well keep this Seuss-alike title from garnering a Geisel nod from the Real Committee.

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