'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Monday 14 October 2013

Review: I Can See Just Fine

I still remember the day my glasses arrived. I was 10 and I'd just got home from school. Mum was in the kitchen and she broke the news to me soberly, tenderly--my new frames were waiting for me on the dresser in her room.

The walk down that hallway was long and it took me a long while to finally reach out and pick up those glasses and slip them over my eyes. I remember crying. I knew my school life would never be the same again.

These were the days when glasses weren't Harry Potter Cool. Yes, 'Four-Eyes' was the catchphrase of the times, and I did get teased. But my school work also improved. And my headaches went. And, just like the little girl in I Can See Just Fine, things became a lot more clear.

I love a book that has a message but doesn't harp on about it. The central issue for a kid who needs glasses is that they need glasses. It's not the benefits or the eventual positive outcomes that matter. It's the 'fitting in', the 'looking different', the 'I'm fine as I am' denial so typical of the egocentric nature of childhood.

Kids inherently feel this and I love how the author doesn't make this issue the focus of this picture book. Getting glasses doesn't have to be the major trauma it was for me as a child. It is what it is, and making a big deal of it is counterproductive.

In I Can See Just Fine, little Paige actually doesn't think there's anything wrong with her eyesight. Nonetheless, she heads off to have her eyes tested, faces a mountainous wall of eyeglass frames, and finally slides those sight-giving onto her face.

VoilĂ ! She can see! And lo, it is good.

Eric Barclay's gorgeous story and absolutely divine illustrations, with the most superb colour palette, combine to form a joyful picture book that would be perfect for kids needing glasses, or for kids not needing glasses. A great storyline and delightfully funny ending make this a book for any child, not just those going down the Glasses Are Now Cool path.

Thanks, Harry Potter. Wish you were around when I was a kid.

Title: I Can See Just Fine
Author/Illustrator: Eric Barclay
Publisher: Abrams Appleseed, $17.95 RRP
Publication Date: 6 August 2013
Format: Hard cover
ISBN: 9781419708015
For ages: 4 - 8
Type: Picture Book