Friday, June 24

The Little I-am-me

When Miss James of Bleubird Vintage professed her love for children's books I was reminded of one my own favourites: The Little I-am-me written by Mira Lobe and illustrated by Susi Weigel.

Published in Austria in the early 70s it has been translated into Croatian, Serbian and Turkish but not English. The story was written in sweet little rhymes - my text is loosely translated, abbreviated and rather plain but nonetheless, here is a little story about a little animal seeking his answer to that age old question: Who am I?

On a colourful flower meadow a colourful animal saunters along, happy that the birds are singing, happily watching the butterflies, happy to feel happiness, but then..

But then a tree frog hops along and asks: "But who are you?"
Puzzled, the animal stops in its tracks and realizes that it has no answer to the frog's question.
The tree frog croaks in disbelieve: "A nameless animal? But you simply must know what you are! If you don't know that you must be very silly!"

Suddenly the colourful animal doesn't want to be on the colourful flower meadow at all anymore. It needs to ask someone, anyone - it simply must find out what it is!

Seeing a mare and her foal the little, colourful animal asks them "Aren't I quite like you?"
"Little one" says the foal "your mane blows in the wind just like mine but your little legs are far too short and your ears are much too long - no, you are some other animal!"

"Your eyes are like ours" bubble the fish flipping around the little, colourful animal "You're not a bad swimmer either, but a fish? No, you are no fish."

The hippopotamus watches the colourful, little animal closely. "Hmmm" it ponders in a gravely voice. "Your legs are as beautifully stout as mine, perfect for stamping on the ground, but that's our only similarity. Hippos don't have a pony mane nor ears like a sausage dog. But look! Up on that tree I can see a tail quite as colourful as yours. Maybe the owner of that tail knows who you are!"

The little, colourful animal thanks the hippopotamus and flies off in pursuit of the flock.
The parrot opens his eyes wide and screeches "Silly little guy! No matter how colourful your tail is you're never not a parrot - go away!"

Lonesome, the little animal haunts the dark city streets thinking to himself "Could it be true? Might I be nobody? Nobody at all? Maybe I don't even exist" it worries "am no fish, nor pony, not a hippopotamus or a dog either, I am not even a flea!"

The little, colourful animal nearly starts to cry, but then it suddenly halts, stops right in the middle of the street, stands stock-still and loudly hollers: "Of course I exist. I AM ME!"

The little I-am-me happily saunters along on all fours. The world looks beautiful once more. Noticing some soapy bubbles the little I-am-me floats towards them and watches his reflection in the biggest one. Splat! bursts the bubble. "Not to worry" says the little I-am-me. "it was only a mirror animal. Now it is gone but I am here".

Click image to enlarge
I don't think I ever owned a copy of this book when I was little but my friend next doors did and with her Mom's help we made our very own little I-am-me's following these instructions. Mine had a beige corduroy body, blue mane and big button eyes.

Weigel and Lobe's light hearted look at how to make sense of your own existence still resonates deeply with me. Childhood and adolescence can be one long, drawn out and scary identity crisis (or maybe a series of small, little crises lumped together into a massive, hard to swallow ball of "who and what am I and am I at all"?). Maybe it is my memory of a yay high Stef  not so certain of her own identity that inspired me to seek out a copy of this book to share with you guys.

Hope you enjoyed this colourful, little journey :)
Happy weekend everyone!


  1. Great dress you're wearing in the Hippo sequence... so Zelda Fitzgerald! And how did you find saddle shoes with a pattern to them instead of the basic white! I love them! They match that dress perfectly. Besides that, I can't get over the sweet theme of that storybook. "I am ME"... wonderful. Thanks for sharing!

  2. This is just great. I love old children's books and scream at my mom when she tries to throw mine out. I also love how you have different dresses in all your pictures!

  3. Oh my goodness, how adorable.  I love the instructions in the back for the DIY I-am-me.  Also loving that you featured the book with so many outfits, indicating that this post has been in the works for some time now.

  4. Oh my gosh, I feel like a little kid again! That was a great story. I'm going to have to break out some childhood books to read again now.. :)

  5. Emily_RubySlippersJune 24, 2011

    I loved it.  Great story, great illustrations, great outfits, and great photos!

  6. AmberBlueBird83June 24, 2011

    thats a darling book.  My sister in law if having a baby shower soon and I think this would make a great gift :)

  7. what a beautiful post.  Your paraphrase of the story reminded me of a poem by Emily Dickinson, I am nobody, who are you?/  Are you nobody too?

  8. AnnaBananaCupcakeJune 25, 2011

    This sounds like such a sweet children's book. And I love that your outfit changes with every page. So lovely!!

  9. cute little has a certain 'moomin' quality that book eh? I collect children's books should have a look at stuff by Shaun Tan, an Australian illustrator/author....fantasmical stuff! 

  10. how cute. I love how you took photos with a different outfit each page.  how neat. I never heard of this book but I only read English!

  11. Emily, Resplendent TranquilityJune 29, 2011

    Aw, what a terrific little book! And thank you for your translation. Children's books are a great source of inspiration and encouragement. It's a wonder more people don't turn back to them when times get tough or when they're down in the dumps.

  12. oranges_and_applesJuly 11, 2011

    I randomly just found this in my starred items (i have to star your posts, cos my work blocks photobucket). I thought I might remember this book when i saw the pictures, but I don't! i must ask my mum!

    Thanks for the camera advice btw!

  13. I found "The little i am me" in the AppStore! There´s also english version!
    really nice. My kids and i just loved it.

  14. Oh brilliant! I didn't realize there was an English version :D