WHAT DO YOU SEE?
A CONVERSATION IN PICTURES
Written and illustrated by Barney Saltzberg
Photographs by Jamie Lee Curtis
(Creston Books; $18.99, Ages 3-7)
Junior Library Guild Selection
There are so many terrific books out there and so little time to review them all that occasionally it’s “better late than never” when I share an older book that still merits my attention. Such is the case with What Do You See?: A Conversation in Pictures written and illustrated by Barney Saltzberg with photographs by Jamie Lee Curtis. How late is this? Well, Saltzberg’s had another book released since I received this one, and Curtis has won her first Academy Award meaning I couldn’t let another week go by without sharing my thoughts on why this picture book appealed to me.
I love picture books that spark children’s creativity. Even my own. So when I first found out that real-life friends Barney Saltzberg and Jamie Lee Curtis had collaborated on a picture book, I knew I had to read it. What Do You See? has a simple concept which is explained on the first page. It’s also effectively told in the third person which has a tender quality about it, like watching a friendship grow.
“She took photographs of things she loved and sent them to him.”
“He drew pictures on her photographs of things he saw and sent them back.”
The rest is sheer enjoyment. From Jamie Lee’s photo of a friendly seagull, Barney saw a “friendly monster …”
Sometimes they imagined the same thing: a metal coil becoming a snail. Other times they saw things quite differently. That is what makes each page turn a treat. That is what makes friendship, and life so interesting.
Best of all, he loved what she saw and photographed and she loved what he drew. They respected their differences and cherished their similarities. “That’s part of what made them friends.” In addition to the delightful photos of fruit, flowers, vegetables, spaghetti, and a friendly seagull included throughout and at the end to prompt children’s imaginations, there’s also an activity guide that provides inspiring, creative crafts, and guides children on how to look at things in everyday life from an imaginative new angle, or via a new lens so to speak.
I got a kick out of the collaborators depicted as parking meter people on the paste-down page at the end. Find more activities on Barney’s YouTube channel. And Jamie Lee is generously donating all proceeds from the book to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles so I hope you’ll get your copy to enjoy and make a difference. If you need your spirits lifted, look no further than What Do You See?
- Reviewed by Ronna Mandel