________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 1 . . . . August 29, 2008


Can Anybody Hear Me?

Jessica Meserve.
London, UK: Anderson Press (Distributed in Canada by Random House of Canada), 2008.
24 pp., hardcover, $24.95.
ISBN 978-1-84270-634-3.

Subject Headings:
Noise-Juvenile fiction.
Family life-Juvenile fiction.

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.

Review by Tristin Burrows.

*** /4


This is Jack. He is very quiet. This is Jack’s family. They are VERY NOISY. In fact, they are so noisy that no one seems to hear Jack.


Can Anybody Hear Me? deals with a relatable issue: how can we be heard in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives? This is certainly the experience of Jack who is a young, quiet boy living on a lively farm with his siblings, parents and extended family. Jack is desperate to share his plan to venture up a great mountain, but time and time again, his family misunderstands him:

Jack said to Granny and Gramps, “I’m going to walk to the top of the mountain today.”

Granny said, “I’m going to knit you a nice new sweater. What colour, red or blue?” Jack said, “Blue please.”

Granny said, “Red is a very good choice.”


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     True to his word, Jack sets out to climb the mountain accompanied by only his best friend, a small stuffed bear named Chester. Through a series of fateful encounters with a wolf cub, bear and owl, Jack begins to gain confidence in the power of his own voice. As Jack returns home, he hears his family’s voices full of worry. Relieved by his safe arrival home, the whole family settles down to listen to Jack recall his heroic adventures on the mountain and “this time, they all heard every word.”

     The crowning jewels of Can Anybody Hear Me? are the colourful and warm illustrations. Each character (farm animals included) is brimming with personality. The farm life is captured with images of oversized cowboy hats, hay bales and plaid shirts. The landscape is luminous, especially in the dusk images before Jack’s arrival. Patchwork quilt landscapes and lovely skyscapes draw the reader in with a warm invitation. One of the greatest successes may be the characters of Jack and Chester whose ever-changing expressions make fast friends out of the reader.

     Can Anybody Hear Me? opens up dialogue about feeling unheard and reminds families and educators alike, about the importance of opening our hearts, slowing down, and listening.


Tristin Burrows, an elementary school teacher with a passion for literature, lives in Winnipeg, MB, with her dog, Bruin.

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

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