CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 5. . . .October 2, 2009.
Me and You.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2009.
32 pp., hardcover, $16.95.
Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 2-6.
Review by Myra Junyk.
I wish I were just like you.
I wish I were just like you
I would love to be bright pink
I would choose the palest shade of white.
Little rabbit and little pig have a dilemma. They want to be exactly alike. Rabbit wants to be bright pink with a curly tale, short and stubby ears and a button nose. Rabbit wants to be daring and loud like Pig. Meanwhile, Pig wants to be the palest shade of white with a fluffy tale, long and floppy ears and tall toes. Pig wants to be dainty like Rabbit. They try various strategies to achieve their goals but realize that they only look funny while trying to be something that they are not! They may look like each other because of their disguises, but they find out that they look much better as themselves.
These enthusiastic friends have made some important discoveries. They can dress up as each other, but they are still very much themselves. They love one another because of their unique characteristics. Their individuality is what makes them loveable – not their differences. Rabbit and Pig have learned some valuable lessons about friendship, caring, individual differences, uniqueness and diversity.
Geneviève Côté’s story begins by describing how the two friends envy each other’s characteristics, but then the book moves on to explore how they try to look like each other. Rabbit paints himself pink, adds a tail and short stubby ears while Pig paints himself white and adds a cotton tail and socks to mimic long and floppy ears. The story is told in a lyrically simple style which will definitely appeal to young children. The rhythm, rhyme, and vivid yet simple descriptions make the story come to life.
Geneviève Côté is a very accomplished author and illustrator living in Montreal. She has won many awards for her work, including the prestigious Governor General’s Award for Illustration. Her previous works include What Elephant? and The Lady of Shalott. This picture book is dedicated to “two little girls who wanted to be twins.” The author explores the common desire among children to imitate their peers.
Me and You would be particularly useful for parents and teachers as a read aloud. Students could participate in a shared reading experience or could dramatize the story by taking on the roles of the characters in the story. The story will provide the basis for lively discussion with parents, caregivers or teachers on topics such as friendship, individual differences, art, imitation and caring for others.
Geneviève Côté’s magical images illuminate the text and engage readers in the story in wonderful ways! The very first illustration shows us a great deal about both the rabbit and the pig. Both are budding artists who are exploring their artistic styles and talents. Rabbit’s friend is a butterfly who appears in most illustrations of Rabbit in this picture book. Pig’s friend is an enthusiastic frog who is an active participant in the events of this picture book. The minor characters – the blue butterfly and the green frog – provide a contrast to the pastel colours associated with the main characters. These minor characters also act as an audience for the action going on between the two friends.
Both Rabbit and Pig are creating art – but they get caught up in imitating each other. The colours used here are predominantly pale and muted with whites and pinks sharing equal prominence. Some illustrations do not have any need for words. When the two friends finally discover that they love each other just the way they are, we see Rabbit and Pig simply looking at one another and realizing the value of their own individuality. Geneviève Côté’s profoundly simple text and luminous watercolour paintings provide readers with a feast for the eyes and the imagination!
Myra Junyk is the former Program Co-ordinator of Language Arts and Library Services at the Toronto Catholic District School Board. Currently, she is working as a literacy advocate and author.
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