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Member Name: sandemp
Where's Spot? - Eric Hill
Advantages: Classic, bright unfussy illustrations, friendly characters, the flaps
Disadvantages: The flaps are a little flimsy compared to the rest of the book
Where's Spot is a book that I fondly remember sharing with my eldest child over twenty years ago and one that I now regularly share with his 22 month old brother, Freddy. Although Where's Spot is also available in paperback we have the board book, and it is that particular format that I will be concentrating on in this review (but I may just reminisce on the paperback). The book itself is fairly small and certainly suited to small hands, measuring about five inches square and formed of sturdy semi-laminated cardboard. The pages are easy for little hands to turn and sturdy enough to survive the rather enthusiastic attentions of a toddler. The flaps are a little less robust being made of thin card rather than thick, but far more robust than in the paperback version.
From the front page to the last the illustrations are delightful, a little cartoonish with bright colours to draw the eye. The use of a dog and her puppy as the heroes of the story is sure to delight any young toddler. The text is big and bold with only a few words on each page, I especially like the way the text is always black on white meaning it is easier for beginner readers to decipher. The very special part of this book though is that on each double page we are looking for Spot and get the chance to check under flaps to see if he's there. This means that pre-readers can really get involved in story-time and that there's lots to talk about on each page.
Freddy and I really enjoy sharing this book, it's become a book we read together at least once a day and one he will regularly ask for. We like to look at each page while I read the words and then talk about what we can see. On those pages with flaps I barely have time to start reading before Freddy is lifting the flaps looking for Spot. So far the flaps have lasted quite well, but from experience with the paperback version (and my other children) I know that if I allow Freddy free access to this book then it won't be long until he rips them off, so this book is strictly kept for sharing.
What I love about this book is that it is not only encouraging Freddy to cultivate his love of books but is also helping him learn a little about the world around him and improve his fine motor skills as he lifts the flaps. I love that as we search the house with Sally we come across various unexpected animals such as a crocodile, penguins, a snake and a monkey. This gives us opportunities to talk about where these animals live, what noises they make and whether we've seen them on one of our regular trips to the zoo. Freddy's favourite animals to find are the monkey (that says "Oo Oo Oo" and snake (that says "Ssssssssss"), this book really does engage him. As the animals are behind and under fairly familiar pieces of furniture we also have the opportunity to talk about these and what they do. I also like the way the book builds the anticipation, with Freddy getting excited as we finally find Spot and give him a stroke. A really nice touch is that there are little speech bubbles coming from the hidden animals which adds a little something for slightly older children.
As well as simply reading the book and talking about the pictures we also sometimes sing songs about some of the animals and furniture we see. So when we find the crocodile we'll sing the second verse of Row the Boat (If you see a crocodile, don't forget to scream), or Hickory Dickory Dock when we come to the clock. This certainly adds a little variety when Freddy has asked for the "Dog Book" for the tenth time in an afternoon. Being a toddler, Freddy certainly does love the repetition in the book, will happily have the book read to him four or five times in succession and still delights in finding Spot. But being an adult I do find this a little mind-numbing after the second or third time in a day (which is why I try and add a little extra dimension) and have to admit I do eventually pretend that I can't find the book (naughty Mummy).
Where's Spot is a book that has been delighting toddlers for over thirty years and it's easy to see why. The combination of bold, colourful, unfussy illustrations, simple repetitive text and animals hidden behind flaps will catch any young child's imagination and surprisingly keep it. I remember many happy story times sharing this very same book with my older children and while to an adult it isn't as exciting as many more recent children's books, it certainly doesn't seem to have lost any of it's charm. While I wouldn't say that this is Freddy's current favourite book (that would be The Very Hungry Caterpillar) it comes a very close second and we both agree that it deserves a place on every toddler's bookshelf, but is a book for sharing rather than exploring alone. So we're giving Where's Spot five stars out of five, as it a well loved classic and we can't wait for our next Spot book to arrive as we've enjoyed this one so much.
Summary: A classic lift-the-flap book for sharing with your pre-schooler, loved by generations of children.