________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 2 . . . . September, 2007


Are You Thinking What I’m Thinking?

Ruowen Wang. Illustrated by Wei Xu.
Toronto, ON: Kevin & Robin Books (www.kevinandrobinbooks.com), 2006.
32 pp., cloth, $19.95.
ISBN 0-9738798-0-7.

Subject Headings:
Love-Juvenile fiction.
Mothers and daughters-Juvenile fiction.

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 3-6.

Review by Jeannette Timmerman.

* /4


"Are you thinking of picking up some groceries for dinner?"

          "No. Try again."

Ruowen Wang taught English as a Second Language for ten years. Her children's picture books are self-published. Are You Thinking What I'm Thinking? relates a conversation between a young girl and her mother. First the mother has to guess what her daughter is thinking. Then the situation is reversed. This is an interesting idea for a children's picture book: mother and child trying to read each other's mind even though they are unsuccessful in their attempts.
     In both guessing parts, the language is repeated. For example, "Are you thinking of ..." and "No. Try again." The repetition of these sentence structures and key phrases serves a number of purposes. If the book is being read to young children, the children have the opportunity to join in at these points. If the book is being read by a beginning reader, the repetition allows for success and confidence when reading these sentences and phrases. Also, the guesses by daughter and mother are identical.

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     The full-page illustrations by Wei Xu are brightly coloured with simplified backgrounds. The picture clues assist both listeners and young readers in following the story. The pictures also show that the relationship between mother and daughter is a happy one.

     However, there are a number of troubling aspects to this book. It would seem that the book was thought out or written in another language and then translated. In some places, the writing is stilted in its conversational wording. For example, "Are you thinking of washing our
family laundry?" Other sentences in this vein are, "Are you thinking of having a new doll?" and, "I'm thinking of impressing my fingerprints on your birthday cake tomorrow." When the book is read silently or aloud, the flow isn't smooth.

     In addition, the pictured girl appears to be about three-years-old. When her mother gives up guessing, the girl explains to her mother about "unique fingerprints" and "impressing" them into her mother's birthday cake icing. She ends this conversation with the words, "I'm unique and I'm yours." This wording and sentence structure are not generally what a child of this age would use. The book then ends with an age-appropriate "Nighty night."

     Also, an unexplained "Mrs. Rose" is thrown into the conversation by the child. This woman is the one who has told the child about fingerprints.

     There are no conversational tags. The mother's words are set out in italics and the daughter's in regular print.

     Because of the problems identified, the book is not recommended.

Not recommended.

Jeannette Timmerman is a former teacher, consultant and administrator in the Winnipeg (MB) School Division.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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