In the book, Moyo navigates the wild with her mother and learns how to survive. From eating leaves to helping save a nearby birds’ nest, the little giraffe encounters several situations in which she feels unable to accomplish her goals, and each time, she exclaims, “I can’t reach it!” Instead of solving Moyo’s problems for her, Moyo’s mother reminds her what she is capable of and encourages her to be resourceful. The story is accompanied by Eduardo Paj’s illustrations–a rich swirl of blues, greens, and oranges–which depict, in addition to Moyo and her mother, the various other wildlife and environments that they encounter in their adventures. Like the story itself, the art style is both playful and textured, creating a fun and beautiful experience that is engaging for children and their parents.
I Can’t Reach It describes itself as a growth mindset book to promote self-esteem and realizes with ease its purported goal. The book uses adorably relatable characters to communicate to children that so much of what they are able to achieve comes down to their belief in themselves. The book’s secondary themes build on that foundation by suggesting that once you do believe in yourself, you can put your energy towards finding resourceful ways to solve your problems. Among these and other valuable sentiments, Moyo’s mother teaches her that it is okay to ask for help. The simplicity of the book’s message is mirrored in its language and the cute, repetitive formula that it follows. The two giraffes encounter a scenario, Moyo expresses doubt in herself, her mother reassures her, and finally Moyo finds a solution and verbalizes what she has learned from the experience. The fact that these heartwarming sentiments come from mother to daughter further enriches the experience of a parent reading I Can’t Reach It to their child. One of I Can’t Reach It’s most notable features is the way that Moyo’s mother helps her through her problems without solving them for her or even giving very much at all in the way of practical advice. Instead, she focuses on encouraging Moyo and teaching her how she can find these answers herself. By taking this approach, Buchmann not only imbues her story with valuable lessons for children, but also for parents. Upon reading the story to their children, parents may walk away with considerable insight about how they might raise their children to be self-sufficient long after the book has been closed.
Overall, I Can’t Reach It teaches us that it’s okay if we don’t always have the answers; the most important thing is that we believe in ourselves and understand how to find them. The book’s simple formula, along with its beautiful, engaging illustrations, work together to impart on both children and their parents valuable lessons that fit neatly into a cute, compelling story.