Unlike I Spy, Can You See What I See?'s photos tend to follow a linear storyline and feature miniature set pieces instead of simply object collections under a unifying theme. For example, Can You See What I See? Toyland Express tells the story of a toy train, from its beginnings in a workshop to a yard sale and a new life with another owner, and Can You See What I See? Out Of This World tells of a robot from the far future building a time machine and visiting a princess's castle. The series quickly proved to be just as popular as I Spy, spawning multiple spin-off series and Licensed Games for the PC. The books are still in circulation and a mainstay of nearly every elementary-school classroom.
The series is also notable for introducing Seymour, a little man made of beads and string hidden in every photo of every book. In On A Scary Scary Night and Dream Machine, he acts as a guide of sorts and follows the reader around their journey. He later got two books all to himself: Seymour and the Juice Box Boat and Seymour Makes New Friends.
The Can You See What I See? series provides examples of:
- Audience Surrogate: Seymour, in On A Scary Scary Night and Dream Machine. He experiences the journey as the reader does.
- Bookends: Treasure Ship's first image is of a single golden pirate coin. After a long series of zoomed-out photos, the last image is of a postcard sitting on the beach, with the same coin washed ashore.
- Call-Back: Cool Collections is much more similar in theme to Wick's I Spy books than to the others of its own series; it features many photos of random object collections instead of set pieces telling a story.
- Christmas Episode: Night Before Christmas.
- Dream Episode: Dream Machine tells of the reader/Seymour's dream of visiting a city of the future and seeing the Dream Machine, a fantastical metal contraption that monitors everyone's dreams.
- Fairy Tale Episode: Once Upon a Time, a Fairy Tale Free-for-All featuring models of scenes from The Three Little Pigs, Puss in Boots, Rumpelstiltskin, and many others.
- Halloween Episode: On a Scary Scary Night.
- He Who Must Not Be Seen: Santa Claus in The Night Before Christmas. The only signs of his presence are his hat in the chimney, his shadow on the wall, and a faraway shot of his sleigh in the sky.
- Punny Name: Seymour, who encourages the reader to "see more."
- Raygun Gothic: The aesthetic of Dream Machine, which depicts a futuristic city full of wind-up styled robots and shiny silver metal buildings.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: The end of On a Scary Scary Night has the reader/Seymour dropping a bottle and accidentally unleashing a ghost. However, the ghost only wants to give the reader a little scare.
- Staggered Zoom: Each of Treasure Ship's photos is a little more zoomed out than the previous. For example, the very first photo is of a single coin in all its detail, and the next is of the treasure chest containing the coin.
- Time-Travel Episode: Out of This World.