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I SPY WITH MY LITTLE EYE (reviewed on March 15, 2011)

Readers play the “I Spy” game with hidden animals, guessing their identities using only peep-hole glimpses of an eye and a patch of color. The animals provide a single clue ("I have a very long trunk") just before a dramatic page turn that delivers a full-bleed, monochromatic portrait of the mystery creature in its environment. The massive double-spread illustrations, with their commitment to one color and the trick of flipping the hole cut-out so that it meshes with the eye on the previous page to complete the animal, produce solidly satisfying revelatory moments. Lively black line work describes a lion’s unruly mane, an elephant’s wrinkles and a fox’s clever, curled lip. These wonderful, inky loops and tangles add wild-haired authenticity to the watercolor animals, which appear against flat habitat scenes. The spy hole steals the show, however, creating an active reading experience right up until the final page. “What can you spy with your little eye?” Children will surely press the book to their faces, squinting gleefully and listing fixtures in their world: Daddy! bookshelf! pillow! An ingenious use of die-cut technology to complement the fun of such favorites as Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle's Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (Picture book. 2-6)


Pub Date: April 1st, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5284-5

Page count: 32pp

Publisher: Templar/Candlewick


A classic childhood guessing game gets an elegant treatment from newcomer Gibbs in this introduction to colors and animals. Alternating spreads tease readers with visual and textual clues: "I spy with my little eye..." reads one, "something that is orange." A porthole-like window at left shows the animal's eye, while a die-cut circle opposite reveals a glimpse of fur. Speech balloons ("I swing from tree to tree with my long arms") and loose jungle flowers offer additional clues, and when readers turn the page, the eye from the previous page aligns with the die-cut, completing each picture (here, an orangutan). Defined by joyful scribbled outlines, the exuberant, friendly animal portraits dazzle. Ages 2–5. (Apr.)


Once in a while, a picture book comes along that's an insta-classic for its sheer simplicity, evocative illustrations and a built-in suspense that makes tots excited as all heck to turn the page. This time, its title is I Spy with My Little Eye by Edward Gibbs (Templar Books; $15). Like Eric Carle's Brown Bear, Brown Bear, from which it borrows heavily, I Spy isn't about much more than animal names and colors. But instead of telling the reader what's on the next page, a diecut hole gives him a glimpse of the animal's color (say, white) and a hint or two as well, such as "I live in the Arctic." Once the page is turned, the hole aligns with the eye on the lefthand side of the previous page, completing the handsome, pen-and-watercolor–esque creature in wonderfully dramatic fashion: the kind that hooks kids on books.


Little Bee by Edward Gibbs

Julia Eccleshare's comment:

A perfectly constructed picture book with a terrific, table turning ending is beautifully produced in this handsome edition. The Little Bee hurries through the pages pursued by a frog, a snake a mongoose and more. But what happens when he meets the fierce hunter? Wonderful illustrations carry the wit of the story effortlessly.

The Acorn by Edward Gibbs


Selected by Julia Eccleshare
  Brilliantly simple, how one acorn saves itself by telling the animals that it will become something bigger and better if they leave it is a treat of a book. Time passes and the acorn lives up to its promise by delivering acorns for all in a wonderful, surprise open the flap spread. This is one of the launch titles of a new imprint from Templar - they're all absolutely gorgeous: Little Bee The Acorn I Spy with my Little Eye

I Spy With My Little Eye by Edward Gibbs


Selected by Julia Eccleshare
A simple I-spy with die-cut holes so little ones can spy through the page and guess the animal. Dramatic bold illustrations focus on a single colour and each page also includes a helpful factual clue about the animal. This is a beautiful fun interactive gift book.


SLJ June Reviews (including a STAR for I SPY WITH MY LITTLE EYE)


*GIBBS, Edward. I Spy with My Little Eye. illus. by author. unpaged. Candlewick/Templar. 2011. RTE $14.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-5284-5. 


This clever book combines color recognition, die-cut peek-a-boo holes, animals, and a guessing game into a successful and appealing whole that will have young listeners asking for more. The first spread contains a circle with an eye on the left side, facing a die-cut hole that shows a blue circle. The text reads: “I spy with my little eye…something that is blue.” A speech bubble reads: “I am the biggest animal in the whole world.” Turn the page and a full-bleed spread depicts a realistic- looking blue whale, with the cutout encircling the eye from the previous verso. And so it goes with a gray elephant, a yellow lion, a white polar bear, an orange orangutan, and a red fox, concluding with a green frog that says, “I’m a frog and I spy…you!” Each “I spy” page includes visual hints about the upcoming animal’s habitat, alongside the textual clues. On the final page, the hole goes through the back cover, which asks, “What can you spy with your little eye?” While some animals are easier to guess than others, children will be so busy enjoying the page turns and the colorful spreads that not guessing an orangutan won’t bother them a bit. This creative book would work equally well in storytimes or one-on-one.–Amy Lilien-Harper, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT

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