See Hear: There’s Magic All Around You. What Can You See? What Can You Hear?

written by Tania McCartney

illustrated by Jess Racklyeft

reviewed by Inda Ahmad Zabri

This colourful picture book is a playful catalogue of the senses of sight and hearing. It is delivered in the format of a book flipped halfway, as SEE starts at the front page and HEAR at the back. I initially found this jarring, as it reads to me as two books put together rather than two halves of a single story, but I can see how young readers would delight in the novelty. The book is a follow up of Smile, Cry also created by McCartney and Racklyeft .

Each half starts with a character stopping for a moment and engaging in either sight or hearing. They then list the many things they encounter. McCartney’s SEE verses offer tangible patterns such as ‘crawling spots’ and ‘squiggly rain’, but eventually wander into more abstract ideas such as seeing ‘sweet friendship.’ I like that she has invited the reader to look everywhere including the sky, underwater and at each other. The HEAR verses adhere more closely to actual sounds, again turning the reader’s attention to even the slightest sounds like ‘the turn of a page’. There is an abundance of onomatopoeia such as pop, purr, tweet and hum.

Racklyeft’s illustrations are rendered in soft colours and portray a rabbit, a cat and pig engaged in a variety of activities. The gang of friends are drawn in simple lines that will appeal to children of very young ages. The type is set in capital letters throughout the book. With the illustration style, each spread evokes the feeling of a poster.

It is a visually attractive and easy book to read, with many interesting features that parents will be able to point out to the very young, and will continue to inspire their imagination as they grow older.

Exisle Kids Publishing NZ 2018, picture book, hardcover $24.99, ISBN 9781925335675

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