Friday, August 3, 2012

I AM DIFFERENT! CAN YOU FIND ME? by Manjula Padmanabhan

Padmanabhan, Manjula. I Am Different! Can You Find Me? Watertown: Charlesbridge, 2011. ISBN: 9781570916403. $7.95

I Am Different! Can You Find Me? is a collaboration with numerous native speakers and language experts covering a breadth of languages from Arabic to Sign Language. Not only is "Can you find me?" written in each language, it is accompanied by a phonetic spelling of the phrase, short facts about the language, and an illustration that has one thing different from everything else. Manjula Padmanabhan has written a book that delights in differences and celebrates the sounds and flavors of different languages and voices.

There were several happy discoveries as I made my way through this book. For example, I was surprised to find out that the Hawaiian language has only twelve letters; at the same time, "'Hiki iā 'oe ke 'ike ia 'u?" was one of the more difficult translations. The musicality of Nhuatl's "Hueli tinechahci?" (Weh-lee tee-netch-ah-see) lingers in my mind. I'll be honest that it was a relief to come across Spanish's "¿Me puedes encontrar?" I'm also glad that there are "cheat sheets" at the end of the book identifying the item that's different in each picture. Overall I did pretty well, but I struggled with the Gullah illustration.

Take your own adventure through I Am Different! Can You Find Me? and find out what language "cheetah," "pajamas," and "shampoo" come from. And I think you'll be surprised to find out where "boondocks," "cooties," and "yo-yo" come from. Finally, give American Sign Language a go and see if you can find more words of your own to sign and say.

Stephanie Ashley

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