I Am Different! Can You Find Me?

I Am Different! Can You Find Me?

  • 1695

By: Manjula Padmanabhan

This clever picture book presents sixteen visual puzzles. On every page, readers must pick out the one item that is different from the rest--a different color, a different shape, reversed from left to right, or just asleep when others are awake!

The phrase "Can you find me?" is shown in a different language on every page.

Can you find me?

Me puedes encontrar?

Unaweza kupata mimi?

Look Inside the Book:

Author Bio:

Manjula Padmanabhan

Manjula Padmanabhan is an author and illustrator in India.

Read more about Manjula.

Awards & Honors:

  • USBBY Outstanding International Books
  • NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People

Editorial Reviews:

Publishers Weekly

Padmanabhan's concept book about diversity features the prompt, "Can you find me?" written in a different language on each page, along with phonetic pronunciations and a brief discussion of each language ("Cheetah, pajamas, and shampoo are words you might know that come from Hindi"). The "me" in question refers to an object, animal, or person that's different from similar items on each spread, which appear to be cut-paper shapes, thickly outlined in puffy paint. Many of the distinctions are quite subtle (one straight line among curvy ones; a box without a match, a ladder with different colored rungs), which points to the book's understated message about the subjective nature of difference, but may frustrate readers.

Kirkus Reviews

An informational picture book presenting diverse languages to child readers, this offering from Indian novelist, playwright and cartoonist Padmanabhan and the Global Fund for Children is a tour de force.

Each page opening includes a brightly colored picture puzzle image with one item differing from the others, accompanied by the question “Can you find me?” written in one of 16 languages from page to page and supported by phonetic pronunciation guides. Supplemental text provides information about each language, including words potentially familiar to English speakers (“Algebra, giraffe, and candy are words you might know that come from Arabic,” for example) or words and phrases for readers to learn (“Count to five in Cree: peyak, nîso, nisto, newo, nîyânan”). The resulting whole broadens readers’ awareness of how languages evolve and adopt words from one another, culminating in photos of a child using American Sign Language to present a non-textual visualization of language. Backmatter includes an answer key to the picture puzzles (with the caveat that there may be different right answers according to each reader’s unique perspective) and a closing note about language diversity.

A substantive, engaging title for multilingual education. Bravo!


Leave it to the Global Fund for Children (and the always innovative small press Charlesbridge) to offer a colorful new book that uses a clever game of hide-and-seek to celebrate our differences, while sharing our universal sameness. And, of course, novelist/playwright/cartoonist Manjula Padmanabhan also deserves equal praise for her entertaining, enlightening creation.

Although 80% of the U.S population speaks only English (I confess I cringed at that statistic, given how so much of the rest of the world is multi-lingual), many many many languages were brought to American shores from all over the world. We are, after all, a continent of immigrants, with roots that extend all over the world over hundreds and hundreds of years, as well as origins that begin right here for indigenous Americans.

Here you’ll learn how to say, “Can you find me?” in 16 different languages – from Hebrew to Cree to Hawaiian to Arabic to Chinese to Spanish to Nahuatl to even American Sign Language (!) – along with 16 puzzles in which you’ll need to identify the one crow, iguana, flower, ladder, key, etc. etc. that is not like the others.

With each puzzle, you also get a little language lesson, including the many words from various other languages that have become a part of everyday English. Take a guess where these words might have originated: hallelujah, ukulele, giraffe, candy, tote, silk, shampoo, and so many more. You’ll just have to get the book if you’re not sure of the answers!

In case you needed any more convincing, click here to hear some of the Global Fund staff read to you from this delightful title. Don’t you want to join in?


This book is a playful introduction to languages from around the world. Each double-page spread presents the phrase “Can you find me?” in one of 16 languages with phonetic translation and high interest facts on one page paired with a picture puzzle of brightly hued repetitive objects outlined in thick candy-like gel paint on the other. As readers are encouraged to repeat this phrase again and again in a diversity of tongues from Arabic to Swahili, they can also try to find the one image that is slightly different from its comrades. Younger children will enjoy solving the puzzles, and older children will enjoy listening to and sounding out languages both familiar and new. While this book is a good overview and clearly demonstrates the enormous debt that our English vocabulary owes to other languages—macaroni from Italian, chocolate from Nahuatl, or camel from Hebrew for example—it fails to present the back matter, useful weblinks, or suggested reading that could launch further exploration of languages found in North America and around the globe.


Bold illustrations and a visual game are the hallmarks of this unusual book. First published in India, it explores the concept of differences through 16 languages. Each double-page spread names a language and gives a few facts about it as well as showing that sentence "Can you find me?" in that language and giving a transliteration for pronunciation. Of more immediate interest to children, each spread offers a page with a number of objects or shapes and challenges viewers to find the one that is different. On some pages, the difference is immediately apparent, but sometimes it takes closer observation, analysis, and an open mind to discover which image is not like the others and why. Children will enjoy those "Aha!" moments and, perhaps, absorb the idea that each is different in its own way. Appended are four pages that reproduce small versions of the pictures and highlight the dissimilar elements. This colorful, original picture book provides an intruiging introduction to languages as well as differences.

Roundtable for Kids

The question is “Mahahanap mo ba ako?” That’s Filipino for “Can you find me?” On the opposite page you see a number of seagulls, but one of them is slightly different. Can you find the one that is not like the others?

Before you move on to the next section, check the paragraph at the bottom of the question page that tells you something about Filipino. You’ll learn that it is spoken in the Philippines, what other languages influenced it (Chinese, English and Arabic to name a few) and that the English words “cooties”, “yo yo” and “boondocks” are words we borrowed from Filipino.

Not only will your observational skills be tested as you read this book, but you will also learn a little bit about sixteen different languages, such as Navajo, Italian, Cree and Hindi.

Part of the proceeds from this book will be donated to The Global Fund for Children to support innovative community-based organizations that serve the world’s most vulnerable children and youth.

Paper Tigers

In this exuberant celebration of differences, Indian cartoonist, novelist and playwright Manjula Padmanabhan makes being unique a source of delight and excitement, rather than something to fear or avoid. Each colorful spread displays an array of a single object, all apparently exactly the same. But wait - one actually is different. Which one? Readers will love the interactive fun of these sixteen puzzles in which they must identify the one ladder, iguana, car, flower, or other object that is not like the others. (Where are the wheels on that car? Is that girl asleep?)

As Padmanabhan writes, "In the United States, eight out of every ten people speak only English." But in fact, both the country and the continent have always been a place of immigrants, and I Am Different encourages readers to remember those roots. Each spread repeats the question, "Can you find me?" in one of sixteen different languages now spoken in North America. Along with phonetic pronunciation, Padmanabhan offers a brief paragraph about each language, including fun facts like "Cheetah, pajamas, and shampoo are words you might know that come from Hindi," or instructions on how to count to five in Cree, the most widely spoken indigenous language in Canada. By repeating the same phrase, "Can you find me?", in a variety of languages, Padmanabhan brilliantly recognizes both the delights of being different as well as the commonalities we all share.

Padmanabhan has illustrated twenty-one children's books, and is well known for her cartoon strip, Suki, which ran first in Bombay's Sunday Observer and later the Pioneer in Delhi. In I am Different, bright, kindergarten-friendly colors and cartoon-like illustrations make an engaging game of hide-and-seek that will provoke young pre-readers (and indeed, the adults next to them) to think deeply about and rejoice in our differences. While some individual spreads may challenge the youngest readers, the book remains a valuable teaching tool for colors, shapes and counting, a wonderful bonding book for parents and children or brothers and sisters, and most of all a joyful embrace of discovering and celebrating things that make us unique.


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ISBN: 978-1-57091-639-7

ISBN: 978-1-57091-640-3

Ages: 6-9
Page count: 40

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