Can You Hear Me?
Can You Hear Me?
Hello, little one!
Can you hear me?
I’m calling out to you.
I can be as loud
as a flock of birds
Ekaterina Trukhan’s Can You Hear Me? was originally written in Slovak. This translated English edition is a riddle-like story using clues from a little girl’s five senses to figure out who the speaker is. The text focuses on each sense and gives a short description of that sense. For example, “Taste! I can be as sweet as blueberries.” “Smell! I have the scent of spring flowers.” There is a reflective element when the speaker (Mother Nature) explains how she can be sad through the destruction of earth and that she can be made happy again when the character recycles or plants a small tree. And the book concludes with an open-ended question for the readers to reflect on all the clues and guess who the speaker is.
Trukhan's illustrations in Can You Hear Me? resemble flat coloured cut-out shapes layered on a page. There are only four colours used throughout the whole book: turquoise, dark yellow, light pink, and black to create the pictures on each page. Some pieces are layered to make another colour, but each distinct shape can still be identified. For example, a yellow shrub is slightly overlapped with a blue shrub to make a partial green shrub. The colour theme and this layered shape approach give the book a playful tone to match the text which is essentially a guessing game with the clues presented by the speaker.
The illustrations complement the text clues from the speaker. For example, when the speaker admits how sometimes they are sad without explaining how, the reader can infer the speaker’s meaning from the illustrations of crying animals, dying flowers, pollution in the lake, and litter on the ground.
The endpapers of the book have labelled illustrations of some of the items found on the two-paged illustrations such as the animals, insects, plants, and trees. This allows the emergent reader to be familiar with these sight words from the story.
Overall, the short riddle-like clues for each of the five senses engage the young reader throughout the playful illustrations. Toddlers will enjoy the pictures and text. Primary-aged children will enjoy the inferencing needed to fill in the details that the text doesn’t explicitly say in order for readers to solve the ultimate question of who the speaker is.
Sheryl Lee is a mother of two children and a teacher-librarian in New Westminster, British Columbia.