Review: Where Do I End and You Begin? by Shulamith Oppenheim

Where Do I End and You Begin by Shulamith Oppenheim

Where Do I End and You Begin? by Shulamith Oppenheim, illustrated by Monique Felix (InfoSoup)

This poetic book asks deep questions about the interconnectedness of life and nature. It begins with a cat asking where it ends and its tail begins. How about a shell and a snail? Or a branch and a tree? Perhaps the sky and the sea? Each pairing gets readers thinking about whether they can tell where one stops and the other begins. Some of them are arguably doable, like the sky and sea where a boundary is evident, others though are real questions whether emotional like a hug or physical like the snail and its shell. This is a book filled with unanswerable questions that will get readers thinking about the importance of all types of connections in our lives.

The poem at the heart of this picture book is particularly beautifully written. It uses items that are familiar to children and then guides them to think about them in a new and surprising way, examining the connections. While the poem could be read very literally at times, other pairings in the book make sure that the questions are larger than the objects themselves, lifting it up to include the interconnectedness of all of us on the planet. This grand book is sure to start interesting discussions in classrooms and families.

The illustrations by Felix are delicate and luminous. They shine on the white background, interconnect with one another and play together too. The cat is found on the next page, walking the stair within the snail’s shell. A boy and girl are present on many of the pages too, exploring the way that humans fit into the world as well.

A superb picture book that asks profound questions and then celebrates the world and our connections with it. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.