Where’s Spot?

Spot the dog was created in 1980 by Eric Hill, and Where’s Spot? was the first book in which the little yellow puppy appeared.  Hill was given the idea watching a television advert in which his son laughed at the funny pictures hiding behing flaps.

In Where’s Spot? Spot’s Mum Sally goes around the house looking for the wayward dog, whose dinner is ready.  It’s laughably simple: each page asks a question about where he is, and when you open the flap he is very definitely not there.

The humour comes from the unlikely nature of the animals hiding in the various places.  Would anyone really expect to find a hippopotamus in the piano?  All the animal says is ‘no’ which leaves plenty of room for first adult and then child to fill in the description of what’s there.

All young children love flap books and this one is no exception.  There is a reason it’s still popular after thirty-one years!  The unexpected nature of what’s behind each flap and the simplicity of the text and drawings make it very appealing even from a very young age.   There is even a twist at the end when we think we have found him but it turns out not to be.

There is nothing to this classic but a very good sense of what keeps children entertained – and that is precisely why it’s been selling successfully for thirty years.


Dear Zoo

This is such a classic book that it hardly needs a review, but it is worth posting about for the minority who may not yet have come across it.

It is a great first book for baby, and ticks all the boxes: a few words per page; a patterned, repetitive structure*; bright, bold, simple illustrations; flaps for fun and interaction; a chance to learn the names of some animals, and a gentle touch of humour.

It starts: “I wrote to the zoo, to send me a pet. They sent me a….” and then on each page we have a new crate and a new animal.  For example: “They sent me an elephant.  He was too big.  I sent him back”.  In the board book version the flaps are large and quite robust, and, rather nicely, open in different directions on different pages so they can practice a wider variety of hand movements.  This is also a great opportunity to practise animal noises – although the camel may prove a challenge!

There are a couple of niggles: the poor snake is stereotyped as ‘scary’, which is a shame, and “I wrote to the zoo to send me a pet” doesn’t fully make sense.  However, this is still a very good place to start reading.

*this is a great thing for children who are at the earliest stages of language learning: because only the name of the animal and the adjective changes, they are able to isolate and understand that word from amongst the rest of the sentence.