Shinsuke Yoshitake, Can I Build Another Me?
Published 2016 by Thames and Hudson (first published 2014), 32p
Can I Build Another Me? is one of those so well written and profound picture books that dare to explore big, philosophical concepts in such a hilarious and inventive way, that by the time you finish reading it, notions like existentialism, individuality, selfhood or life experience are already familiar.
A few months ago I recommended you Yoshitake’s It Might Be An Apple, a beautiful piece on perception and first impressions and now I am happy to talk about Can I Build Another Me?, as Yoshitake’s reflection on individualism and the importance of building strong selves is a delight.
Kevin, a little boy fed up with doing things he doesn’t want to do, like homework and daily chores, decides to spend all his pocket money on a robot that he intends to turn into a clone of himself.
From now on, you’re going to be the new me!
The robot agrees but to build up his new identity, he needs to know all about Kevin. The boy lists everything that comes to his mind, from details about his family and particular features of his body, to many of the things he likes and dislikes.
Soon, Kevin realizes that he is the embodiment of all his younger selves and although he was made by two parents, he created his own history and developed his particular characteristics. “I leave traces of me”, Kevin admits, thinking of how his parents identify his mess or how his peers recognize his belongings.
The more he thinks about himself, the more complicated it becomes. He realizes the diversity of the feelings he has, the intensity of the dreams he grows, the joy of interacting with different people and the secrecy of some of his most intimate thoughts.
I’m NO ONE BUT ME. Grandma once told me that everyone is like a tree. Trees come in all different shapes and sizes. You can’t choose what kind of tree you are, but you can choose how to grow. And you can decorate yourself in any way you like! It doesn’t matter how big your tree is. It’s whether you like your tree, that’s what counts!
The end of the story is funny and meaningful but I don’t want to spoil your reading.