Review Blog

Apr 19 2018

See hear: a beginner's book of senses by Tania McCartney

cover image

Ill. by Jess Racklyeft. EK Books, 2018. ISBN 9781925335675
"If I stop and look around, I can see so many things."
In this sequel to Smile cry, Piglet, Bunny and Cat are looking closely at the world around them and then using their words to describe what they see - the crawling spots on the ladybird; the squiggly rain down the window, the heavenly horses in the clouds. Then flip the book over and they explore the world through its sounds - baby birds tweeting in the nest, a page being turned, the sizzling of carrot chips in the pan. And then the two sides meet in the perfect observation - the endless stars and the endless quiet of outer space.
Young children find out so much of what they know about the world around them through their senses - they're not yet old enough to consult books, watch David Attenborough or search Google - so teaching them to really look and listen is such an essential skill. But also essential, and what Tania McCartney does so well, is to teach them to express what they see in words that create pictures and memories, to use all their senses to evoke and provoke emotions. Will you ever hear thunder again and not think "calamitous clouds"?
While on the surface this looks like a book for the preschooler, imagine how it could be used to encourage young writers to bring depth and richness to their words, to explore the world of metaphor and simile, to really look and listen and feel and taste and then share that with their readers. Start by having each contribute a new page for the book, making the common uncommon; the stereotype original; the banal beautiful. Watch their writing grow!
Such riches in an exquisite combination of author and illustrator that goes so far beyond the usual 'eyes see, ears hear' books for this age group.
Barbara Braxton

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