________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 5 . . . . October 26, 2007


What Am I?          

Linda Granfield. Illustrated by Jennifer Herbert.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2007.
32 pp., hardcover, $18.99.
ISBN 978-0-88776-812-5.

Subject Headings:
Riddles, Juvenile.
Guessing games-Juvenile literature.

Preschool-kindergarten / Ages 2-5.

Review by Valerie Nielsen.

*** /4


What am I           

I can take you far.           

I have pedals you must push                       

                       Can you guess?            

A wagon?            

A bicycle?           

A shopping cart?           

A baby stroller?           

A toy truck?

What Am I? is a picture book guessing game designed to amuse and educate very young children. Skills of observation and logical thinking are the focus of every riddle presented. Each of the seven "What am I" riddles is presented on a two page spread with the answer on the following double page. Three lines give the clues and five possibilities follow, all of which are depicted in brightly coloured paintings by noted illustrator Jennifer Herbert. On the following page, text appears on one side and a single illustration of the correct answer on the other side. This riddle/answer set-up is perfect for sharing with the preschooler. He or she can be kept in suspense while possibilities for the answer are discussed. Then comes the shout of  glee, "Aha! I'm right!" when the page is turned. (Or, as in the case of the sharp things which come in pairs, can be used outside in winter and inside in summer, the groan of disappointment: "Oh no! It's the ice skates.")  Fortunately the disappointed groan will happen only during the first time of  reading, as the four and under crowd are ecstatically happy to "guess" correctly time after time.

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     Jennifer Herbert's bold and saucy paintings are the best thing about What Am I? All of the objects in the text (and many more) are drawn so that even a not-so-articulate toddler will enjoy pointing out the familiar items as her/his older sibling plays the guessing game.

     Linda Granfield is best known for her interest in bringing history to life with her nonfiction books for young people. Two of her best-known works are In Flanders Fields: The Story of the Poem and Amazing Grace: The Story of the Hymn. The idea of combining a picture book with a guessing game for the very young displays an excellent understanding of the nature of the preschooler, although it appears to have been a little difficult to keep the clues and the possibilities which follow them in the range of the intended audience. (The one about the airplane is too easy and the one about snow flake too difficult.) Nevertheless, the combination of Granfield's guessing game with Herbert's engaging illustrations will be sure to provide enjoyment for the reader and young listener.


A retired teacher-librarian, Valerie Nielsen lives in Winnipeg, MB.

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

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ISSN 1201-9364
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