Peepo!

“Here’s a little baby

One, two, three,

Stands in his cot,

What can he see?”

First published in 1981 this classic book is told from the perspective of a baby watching the world.  Peepo! trips along in a lilting rhythm, a simple description of what the baby sees throughout his day, but its unique feature is the hole on every other page, which allows the reader to peep through onto the next picture.  These are beautifully detailed and help to extend the potential for discussion beyond the text.  You could even echo Each Peach Pear Plum and play a finding game – there are lots of little tiny items that children could search for.  Younger ones will love simply poking their fingers through the holes. The text is fluent and a pleasure to read aloud.

He sees a bonfire smoking,

Pigeons in the sky

His mother cleaning windows

A dog going by”

Some may find the old-fashioned nature of the illustrations rather strange. The book is clearly set in wartime Britain, which does seem peculiar for something written in the early 80s, but it was a shrewd move on behalf of the Ahlbergs as thirty years later it still doesn’t look dated – or at least, it appears as old-fashioned as the day it was published!  Furthermore there is a poignant undercurrent that runs throughout, from the bombed house near the park, to the pair of warbirds flying past as the baby eats his teddy, to the father in uniform putting his son to bed.

Despite the ‘peepo’ game with the pages the tone of the book is actually fairly calm, and because it goes through the child’s whole day, it ends on a note that makes it wholly appropriate for bedtime, with the baby ‘fast asleep and dreaming’.

This is a classic for a reason.  It is a pleasure to read aloud and could be enjoyed by most readers from a very young age.

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