Hide and Seek
There are search and find picture books aplenty and then there is Anthony Browne’s game of Hide and Seek, which is in an altogether different class: a class of its own. And it’s actually Anthony Browne’s 50th picture book of his career.
Herein the search is for a missing dog, Goldie, belonging to sister and brother, Poppy and Cy, or rather it isn’t. The search is actually that of Poppy for her brother in the game of hide-and-seek they decide to play in the woods as a distraction from their sadness over Goldie’s disappearance.
Cy duly hides himself; Poppy counts and then confidently commences her search.
(By now observant readers will have noticed some surreal additions to the children’s woodland surroundings.)
Seemingly Cy has hidden himself rather too well, for Poppy has trouble locating him thanks to several false leads. Her little brother meanwhile, is getting increasingly desperate for a wee, not to mention chilly and downright scared.
Is his mind beginning to conjure up some of the more disturbing images hidden in the woods as he hears the sound of something approaching?
There’s more than one surprise in the final spreads of this rich and absorbing story; and for readers perhaps, the most unexpected surprise is the open-ended finale …
But then Browne always poses questions and invites speculation way beyond the simple narrative of the written story.
(The last page lists eighteen objects the author has ‘hidden’ throughout the book.)
For me, having access to woodland is an essential part of being human. To enter a wood is to journey back in time: it sharpens the senses; we hear, see and smell differently and our imagination too is expanded. It puts us back in touch with our primeval selves. Anthony Browne invokes that same experience between the leaves of this spell-binding book.