Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Can You Do This?

Can You Do This? by Michael Wagner, illustrated by Heath McKenzie (ABC Books) HB RRP $19.99 ISBN 9780733335723

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Sibling rivalry is the name of the game in this simple, repetitive picture book for readers aged 4+ years. It starts with a cartoonish character (a mouse, perhaps) who says, ‘My big brother can do anything.’ Big brother replies, ‘That’s true.’ From then on, the younger brother challenges his older brother in a variety of movements (cartwheeling on the lounge, showing-off on a bike, springing off a diving board, and so forth) while big brother claims he can also do this.

The illustrations show both brothers on each page with broad backgrounds of vivid colour. In one page (blue background), a huge, elegant, yellow sandcastle being built by the younger brother with the older brother saying he can make a castle ‘with both paws tied behind my back.’ This is followed by a double-page spread with six orange and red shapes filled with the brothers in Tai Kwando uniforms.

The exploits by the younger brother become more and more complex (there’s even aerial flying), with the youngster saying, ‘Maybe one day I’ll be as good as my big brother.’ There is, however, a twist on the final double page spread.

This is an action-packed book likely to be enjoyed by a competitive sibling.

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