Who am I? by Philip Bunting
Scholastic Australia, 2020. ISBN: 9781743835043.
(Age: 5-10) Highly recommended. Philip Bunting likes to tackle some of the big questions in life (How did I get here?) and this is no exception. Who Am I? doesn't just look at human existence from a physical point of view, instead explaining to children all the things that contribute to building identity. The illustrations are done in Bunting's signature style: simple but eye-catching and highly effective. The book is structured using a series of questions (Am I my name?, where I'm from?, my stuff?, my gender?, the colour of my skin?, my muscles?, my bones?, my guts and stuff? my senses?, my thoughts?, my feelings?), that are then explored, with the message that most of these are important makings of our body but don't really make us who we are. 'Your true self is so much greater than any of these bits and pieces . . . Pootling around, somewhere behind your eyes, is the thing that makes you, you. Your truest self . . . this is the part of you that sees what you see, wonders what you wonder, and feels what you feel'.
There is an overarching and quite explicit message here that we are not our outer body and that all humans around the planet are deeply connected. We are all from the same place, made of the same stuff and sharing the same feelings. Philip Bunting has the most exquisite way of putting huge ideas into simple words. The Bill Hicks quote that he has included in the back of the book is "We are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively". In Who Am I? Bunting has masterfully explored this deeply philosophical idea in a way that makes it accessible to the youngest of readers. Themes: Identity, Philosophy.