Find Tom in Time: Ancient Rome

Find Tom in Time: Ancient Rome
Fatti Burke
Nosy Crow

Published in collaboration with The British Museum, this is another Fatti Burke search-and-find story that plunges young Tom and his adventure-loving archaeologist Granny Bea’s mischievous cat Digby back in time, on this occasion, by means of a coin from the time of Hadrian.

As with his previous adventure, Tom visits all the major sites and his first stop in Rome is the bustling market forum. Where though are Granny Bea and Digby? The search is on but there’s so much else to spot at the forum before moving on to the next location – Circus Maximus where there’s a chariot race under way.

From there Tom tries the beautiful Pantheon building,

a sculptor’s studio; a busy aqueduct building construction site, blocks of flats called insulae (Latin for island); then further up the street, the public baths.

Still Granny and Digby remain illusive so he tries the harbour, two villas – one with a banquet under way,

and even catches sight of the emperor in a chariot as he searches the street, finally ending up at the huge Colosseum amphitheatre. Could it be that here he’ll finally catch up Granny and her cat?

All ends happily of course with the three reunited and back in their own time.

Every alluring spread is packed with fine details to pore over as well as a list of items to find (from a bird nesting in a centurion’s helmet to a fainting lady) and plenty of facts in bite-sized chunks.
Also included – solutions (in case you can’t find all the 100+ items), a glossary and index.
Especially worth getting hold of if your child or class is studying Ancient Rome but it’s lots of immersive fun learning in any case. Perhaps just what’s needed right now.

Where’s Will? / Spot the Dinosaur on the Island

Where’s Will?
Tilly and Anna Claybourne
Ivy Kids

Published a while back but new to this reviewer (thanks to the publishers for sending it now) this is a Shakespearean search-and-find extravaganza that presents the bard in an accessible way for young audiences; and let’s face it none of us is going to be able to see a live performance of any of the plays featured in the foreseeable future.

Anna Claybourne has chosen what are arguably, the ten most popular stories show-casing each one through a context setting summary, for instance ‘Twelfth Night is a comedy, and once again Shakespeare’s plot involves the mix-ups caused by people wearing disguises‘, and a story board outline of its plot, along with its cast, that she and artist, Tilly, present on the first of two spreads.

The second is a busy panoramic scene wherein the characters are hiding in plain sight for readers to find; so too is the playwright himself who insists on putting in an appearance in each of his featured works (as does a pig for some reason).

The original language isn’t retained in the storyboard texts – probably an impossible task – but readers familiar with any of the plays could try choosing an appropriate line or two for each vignette, thus adding a further dimension to using the book.
The artist has chosen different tones for each play, thus helping to capture both the drama’s setting and the spirit of its performance.
Some Shakespeare aficionados will likely throw up their hands in horror at all this, but it’s a case of ‘to see, or not to see’ and this bard enthusiast recommends seeing; it’s a case of the more you look, the more you see.

Books such as this could be a boon in the forthcoming weeks, and this one is surely both immersive and entertaining.

For younger search-and-find enthusiasts try:

Spot the Dinosaur on the Island
Stella Maidment and Joelle Dreidemy
QED

Again not brand new but worth getting hold of and sharing with little ones at that dinosaur-mad age most of them go through.

Herein, Joelle Dreidemy’s alluring, bold, bright scenes offer plenty for youngsters to see including a playful baby T. Rex that hides on every double spread while Stella Maidment’s brief narrative guides users, giving snippets of information throughout the adventure.

We visit first the island in its entirety, followed by a sequence of closer-in views of dinosaurs feeding,

moving, hatching, showing off their protective features and some even enjoy a dip, while others take to the air. Then there are those like Pleiosaurus that actually lived in the sea, so there’s plenty of visual information to absorb, as well as five items to spot on each spread.

The last scene is a busy archaeological dig and this is followed by ‘More to Spot’ – an invitation to take another look, a ‘Did you know?’ page and finally, some crafty fun.

 

All Around Bustletown: Summer / All Around Bustletown: Autumn

All Around Bustletown: Summer
All Around Bustletown: Autumn

Rotraut Susanne Berner
Prestel Publishing

Completing the seasonal visits to Bustletown are these two seek-and-find books from Hans Christian Andersen award winner, Rotraut Susanne Berner.

The only words in the books apart from the plethora of signs, shop names etc. in the seven scenes of each, are found on the back cover. Nevertheless children will enjoy look, look, looking, over and over, inventing their own tales about the characters they meet on the pages; or instead, taking one particular scene and making up a story about what’s happening thereon.

For instance, there is a woman who is celebrating her birthday and has invited all her friends to a party in the park. Or why not follow Martha the penguin-loving nun who delightedly adds a penguin balloon to the fan she’s carrying only to have it blown away in a sudden squally downpour? Does she manage to retrieve it? You can find out on the final party spread.

Then there’s bookseller Wyatt, another party invitee: I’m sure Cara will be happy with his surprise gifts, not to mention the love element between the red-helmeted guy and the woman in checked-cut-off trousers. Do they make it to the party or head off elsewhere?

Oh! There’s also a mouse hiding in plain sight on every spread too: he needs to watch out for Tom the cat.

Autumn is the time when Bustletown holds a special festival and everyone is busy preparing. There’s an abundance of pumpkins large and small ready to be carved in the competition and the kindergarten we saw being built in the Summer book is now celebrating its opening with a lantern parade: so look out for children carrying all kinds of wonderful lanterns on every spread.

Martha the nun is there with her penguin too as well as, when she reaches the café on the final page, a funky ladybird lantern.

Oh my goodness: George and Anne’s huge pumpkin looks so heavy they can hardly manage to lift it up the steps and into the cultural centre where the carving is to take place.

Once again, there’s an absolute wealth of stories told and more waiting for readers to invent: just so many ways youngsters to let their imaginations soar here. The sturdy board book build of these two means that they should stand up to the enthusiastic use I envisage they’ll get if you add them to your collection.

Search-and-Find A Number of Numbers

Search-and-Find A Number of Numbers
AJ Wood, Mike Jolley and Allan Sanders
Wide Eyed Editions

What at first glance appears a relatively simple search-and-find counting book rapidly becomes a totally immersive experience in the hands of Amanda Wood, Mike Jolley and Allan Sanders.
Once you dive into the pages comprising their sequence of zany spreads with scenes as diverse as a monocyclist, marine life, a castle scene, and canines galore – both adult and pups, you’ll find it hard to stop before the end.

This playful offering will surely have a wide age appeal – pre-schoolers for instance will relish the number 3 pages whereon nursery favourites the ‘3 blind mice,’ rhyme, the 3 bears, the 3 billy-goats gruff and the 3 little pigs all put in an appearance along with a host of other items in 3s, to locate.

Few of any age will be able to resist the delicious picnic spread out along the banks of a meandering river (number 10,) or the 19 robot with all manner of inappropriate items left inside by its absent-minded boffin constructor.

Another of my favourite spreads is 5 with its splendidly embroidered woolly glove – perfect to wear in chilly weather.

By the time anyone reaches the 100 challenge – a building site – their counting fingers will likely be all a-tingle and their eyes agog; and their visual skills will most definitely have been honed considerably, thanks to every one of Allan Sanders splendidly eccentric scenes. But there’s still one final challenge …

Brilliantly playful and playfully brilliant – don’t miss it!

Imagine

Imagine
Alison Lester
Allen & Unwin

This is a special sparkly covered 30th anniversary edition of a book that is superb for developing youngsters’ imaginations as well as introducing them to a whole host of animals by transporting them to a variety of different settings. There’s the jungle, the depths of the ocean, a polar ice cap, a farm, a swampland full of dinosaurs, an African plain and finally, the Australian bush. This adds a search-and-find element to the experience.

Each location is prefaced by a scene of two suitably attired children engaging in creative play opposite which are seven lines of rhyming text inviting readers to ‘imagine if …’.

After this comes a panoramic double page spread simply teeming with animals, bordered by the names of the creatures depicted.

Helpfully in this new edition, there is a key to the animals found in each location on the last page and back endpapers; there were some, particularly from the Australian bush, that I couldn’t identify without it.

Alison Lester is spot on in the way she shows how young children create their own imaginary worlds as they play, plunging themselves right in and becoming part of the action. The final spread brings them back closer to reality as they’re shown engaging in domestic small world play.

I still have my original 1991 copy and am happy to find the book has lost none of its allure.

Find Tom in Time: Ancient Egypt

 

Find Tom In Time: Ancient Egypt
Fatti Burke
Nosy Crow

When Tom’s adventure-loving, archaeologist grandmother, Bea holds out an amulet for him to touch,

he finds himself transported back to a desert in Ancient Egypt surrounded by huge pyramids. In front of one stands a large statue called the sphinx. That though is only the first of the fascinating sights and activities that he encounters on his time travelling trip.

A funeral procession passes by and Tom follows behind to witness the burying of a mummy. He suddenly realises that there’s a cat on the scene that looks uncannily like his gran’s Digby. Surely not, but it is, and thereafter the creature is one of the numerous items readers are asked to spot in the locations Tom visits.

There’s the River Nile

and farmland close by, flooded annually by the river that puts additional nutrients into the soil; the busy town marketplace; the huge temple close to which is a scribe school where fortunate students sit writing on stone blocks.

From there Tom follows a boy to the embalming workshop that is full of dead bodies , priests and workers.

Outside again he takes a look at some of the houses, one of which belongs to a nobleman and is full of expensive wooden furniture, ivory and gold.

Somehow the lad finds himself at a banquet where guests feast on such things as duck, goose, fresh fruit, sweet cakes and pastries.

By now dusk has fallen, Digby still eludes him but Tom makes a stop at a riverside festival having heard a familiar meow. Surely that can’t be Granny Bea holding the errant moggy?

It is; and as Tom reaches out to hug her, there’s a ‘whoosh!’ and they’re back home in the present. It’s then that readers learn that Granny Bea has accompanied Tom at every stage of his journey: time to go back and start searching for her in every scene.

The Ancient Egyptians is a very popular unit of study in the KS2 curriculum and with detailed art by Fatti Burke, this book, published in collaboration with The British Museum, will make a fun, immersive and educative addition to a primary school collection as well as one to enjoy at home, especially by those who are eager search and finders. It’s fortunate perhaps that there are solutions showing the location of all the seven items hidden in each spread.

Find My Rocket / Elephants on Tour / Egypt Magnified

Find My Rocket
Aleksandra Artymowska
Laurence King Publishing

Aleksandra Artymowska is a terrific illustrator; I first came across her amazing work through another maze book, Amazed. Now it looks as though the same boy from that book has returned needing help in another puzzling adventure. This time having sent his red rocket jetting off into space he needs our help to locate it in eleven differently themed maze scenes. It’s easy enough for readers to spot the whizzing spacecraft but finding the right way through the intricately detailed possible pathways presents a real puzzler.

Every one of Aleksandra’s scenes be it the paper cranes, the building blocks, the toolbox or the teddies,

is packed with wonderful small objects, visual jokes and more – love the alliterative manoeuvres the lad performs during his search– catapulted through the cars, dodged all the dominoes, for instance, before he finally succeeds in retrieving the object he launched.

A great book to immerse oneself in as the evenings draw in; if you’ve yet to discover Aleksandra Artymowska, then this is a great place to start.

Elephants on Tour
Guillaume Cornet
Laurence King Publishing

Having packed their trunks, five elephants are ready to embark on a world tour and we’re invited. First though we need to get to know something about our fellow adventurers: there’s the highly organised guy with his bags full of maps and tickets. He’s accompanied by a food connoisseur; the arty one, the photographer and the energetic one who insists on taking his skateboard along.

Having done London aboard a red double decker, the next port of call is Amsterdam with its canals and cycle lanes to explore. No doubt they sampled the syrupy waffles, a speciality of the city.

I’m sure they would also have tried the blinis in St. Petersburg and kayaked along one of the rivers or taken a ride on the Mongolian railway.

After visiting sixteen locations on five continents the final stop in their frenetic journey before returning to home shores, is Paris.

Along the way we receive a running commentary from the five travellers and for each location a fact file and other useful information. We’ll definitely need all that because at the outset, we are asked to make sure we find each of the elephants and their favourite belongings at every stopping place. No easy task with so much to look at. (Answers are supplied at the end of the tour.) My head is spinning after that.

With Guillaume Cornet’s intricately detailed scenes, this search and find journey is totally engrossing; those cityscapes are mind-boggling.

Egypt Magnified
David Long and Harry Bloom
Wide Eyed Editions

One possible way to get youngsters interested in times past, especially those who can’t get enough search-and-find books is this offering from Long and Bloom. Readers are invited to travel back through the centuries and visit sixteen Egyptian scenes, including the Great Pyramid and Tutankhamun’s tomb that are absolutely teeming with tiny figures.

Once in ancient Egypt, there are  ten items or people to spot in each illustration and on reaching the end, readers are encouraged to go back and hunt for another 57, plus a hidden mummy on every spread. (There’s a magnifying glass to facilitate the search inside the front cover, because, so we’re told, every Egyptologist needs one.)

Once Upon A Magic Book

Once Upon A Magic Book
Lily Murray and Katie Hickey
Lincoln Children’s Books

Entering out of the rain a toyshop that seems to have appeared from nowhere, best friends Sophie and Jack embark on an adventure that takes them, once they’ve located and turned the golden key, through the pages of a purple book.
Their journey takes them to all kinds of locations: a fairytale forest wherein a wicked witch might be lurking; a pirate island;

a city they reach on a flying carpet and a frozen mountainous region where the witch is at work on an avalanche-creating spell.
From there it’s on to a medieval castle where Sophie falls under that witch’s spell; then they dive beneath the sea to an underwater world.

The next magic door leads them to a jungle city from where they enter the land of sweets before stepping back in time to a cobbled city wherein the witch has let loose animals from a zoo.

At the fairground an old woman tempts Sophie with an apple and they spot a familiar-looking cottage.

Surely they haven’t been tricked by that wicked witch after all that? They’d better hurry up and find, with readers’ help, all the vital ingredients that will enable them to escape her clutches.

Intricately detailed illustrations of the various locations from debut picture book artist Katie Hickey, together with a story that draws readers in from the very start and holds them spellbound through to the final spread with so many items to search for and clues to solve, it will be a considerable time before not only Jack and Sophie, but those accompanying them on their journey, finally emerge from its pages.

Spot the Mistake: Journeys of Discovery

Spot the Mistake: Journeys of Discovery
Amanda Wood, Mike Jolley and Frances Castle
Wide Eyed Editions

If my experience with the previous Spot the Mistake title, Lands of Long Ago, is anything to go by, children will eagerly seize upon this follow up that encompasses ten explorative expeditions with famous travellers from Marco Polo to the NASA Apollo moon mission.

Each of the journeys is allocated two double spreads, the first being a large scene featuring the explorer and aspects of the journey undertaken, and contains 20 visual incongruities for spotters to discover.
The subsequent spread identifies the ‘anachronisms’ (some are much more easily spotted than others,) in a smaller annotated scene and provides some explanation; and there’s also a paragraph about the particular journey and the explorer(s) involved.

With explorers as diverse as Zheng He from China who, in the 15th C, led voyages that took him and his fleet to Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia, and Edmund Hillary who, with his trusty guide, Sherpa Tenzing Norgay reached the top of Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain in 1953.

Young eagle-eyed spotters will definitely enjoy finding the Elvis picture among those displayed on the Zheng He spread; the basket of apples and incomplete lunar calendar in Columbus’ ‘New World’ scene;

and the laptop lurking in the early 20C South Pole scene that features Captain Scott.

Frances Castle’s diorama style scenes are both engaging and contain just the right amount of detail to be inviting but not overwhelming.

Between the covers of this book there’s a wealth of learning potential in the form of a game.