An informational picture book presenting diverse languages to child readers, this offering from Indian novelist, playwright and cartoonist Padmanabhan and the Global Fund for Children is a tour de force.
Each page opening includes a brightly colored picture puzzle image with one item differing from the others, accompanied by the question “Can you find me?” written in one of 16 languages from page to page and supported by phonetic pronunciation guides. Supplemental text provides information about each language, including words potentially familiar to English speakers (“Algebra, giraffe, and candy are words you might know that come from Arabic,” for example) or words and phrases for readers to learn (“Count to five in Cree: peyak, nîso, nisto, newo, nîyânan”). The resulting whole broadens readers’ awareness of how languages evolve and adopt words from one another, culminating in photos of a child using American Sign Language to present a non-textual visualization of language. Backmatter includes an answer key to the picture puzzles (with the caveat that there may be different right answers according to each reader’s unique perspective) and a closing note about language diversity.A substantive, engaging title for multilingual education. Bravo! (Picture book. 5-8)