An Existentialist Children's Book

Is This You? - Ruth Krauss, Crockett Johnson

I really do not understand the purpose of this book. It has a series of pictures of silly thing with a question underneath it (such as is this your family, is this where you go to school, is this what you eat for breakfast) and then at the end of each section it asks you to draw a picture corresponding to that question. At the end, as the book claims, you have a book that defines you. Okay, I can sort of understand where this book is getting at, but I guess what gets me is that it seems to think that these particular thing defines who we are when in reality is doesn't.


Just remember the saying in Fight Club – you are not the car you drive, you are not your cafe late (I can't remember the rest of it but you get the gist). Okay, our family can define who we are, but not where we sleep, especially if we sleep in a bed like most of us in Australia do (though if you sleep in a garbage can, which people do, then that can have an effect on defining you). Also, it seems to assume that you eat the same thing for breakfast everyday, but we are not necessarily defined by our breakfast (though if the reason that we do not have omelettes everyday is because we can't be bothered cooking omelettes everyday them maybe that does sort of define our character).


No, we are in charge of who we are and how we define ourselves, and we define ourselves by our actions. In fact, do not let anybody else define you, because the only reason that they want to define you is because the only reason that they are trying to define you is because they want to control you. For instance, being a post-modern theist (okay, I'll say Christian because that makes the point much better) I tend to have people say to me 'you are not acting like a Christian'. The only reason that they say that is because they want to a) guilt you into doing something that they want and b) control you (which is basically a in a much more simplified way).


However, this book does not attempt to define you but gives you the opportunity to define yourself, though I would have to say that a number of things that the book asks you to do (such as draw a picture of where you sleep) doesn't really work to give you definition.