Yes We Can!
written by Sam McBratney
illustrated by Charles Fuge

Sam McBratney's Yes We Can
Illustrated by Charles Fuge

Children's book review by Jane Finch

Ages 4-8

A children's book about friendship and positive play

Three animal friends meet outside to play. There is Little Roo, Country Mouse, and Quacker Duck. It’s a windy day in Fall and their first idea is to make a huge mountain of leaves, but it’s hard work and they stop for a rest. They were having fun, working together to make the leaf mountain.

Whilst they are resting they begin to think of challenges for each other but they are things they cannot possibly do. For example, Little Roo challenges Quacker Duck to jump over a big log, but of course ducks are not meant to jump high. It would be easy for Little Roo, though.

Likewise Quacker Duck challenges Country Mouse to float on a puddle, which of course is easy for a duck but impossible for a mouse.

Then Country Mouse challenges Little Roo to catch his tail. Something a kangaroo cannot do, but it’s easy for a mouse.

Then all the friends fall out because they have been making fun of each other and making themselves unhappy and miserable.

Yes We Can!

Little Roo’s mother arrives and explains that no-one likes to be laughed at, and suggests the animals all try things they are good at. So Little Roo jumps over the log and the others congratulate him for doing such a good job. Country Mouse catches his tail, and Quacker Duck floats on the puddle. Not only do the animals become friends again, but they appreciate the skills and accomplishments of each other.

Yes We Can is a hardback picture book, and has a lovely moralistic aspect. It subtly emphasises the importance of friendships and how it is not good to make fun of one another. It explains how unhappy friends can be when they have an argument, and how nice it is when everyone gets on with each other.

As the book states, this is “an adorable tale of fun and friendship that celebrates how everyone can be good at something”.

I think it goes further than that. It also explains how important and vital it is to compromise in friendships. It also shows the importance of teamwork, because all of the animals were happy when they were working together to build the leaf mountain.

Whilst it could be read by an early reader, I think this would be delightful to read to a child whilst they look at the colourful and lively illustrations. It also gives an ideal opportunity to discuss the issues of friendship.

The illustrations are quite clever. They really convey the characters and feelings of the animals so that even as a parent might read this, the child can quickly see the mood of the animal and how it relates to their actions.

I was quite impressed by Yes We Can! A simple story, simply written, but it contains lots of life issues that any child is likely to encounter. I think a child will remember this story and how the animals encouraged one another and overcame their difficulties to remain best of friends.

Webmaster's note: Be sure also to check out McBratney's classic, Guess How Much I Love You.

Read more of Jane's reviews.

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