Have You Seen Gordon?
Have You Seen Gordon?
Can you find Gordon at the amusement park? Is he in line for a ride? Is he watching a … Hey Gordon. You’re not hiding very well.
It’s okay, Gordon. You can try again on the next page.
Can you find Gordon at the farmers market? Is he buying strawberries? Or is he wearing a pink-and-yellow hat that everyone can see very easily? Gordon! What are you doing?
“I love this hat!”
Well, it makes you really easy to find.
“So no hat?”
No hat, Gordon. Just hide.
Have You Seen Gordon? is the first picture book by author Adam Jay Epstein, and hopefully it will not be the last. There is so much to like about this book which takes a standard look-and-find format but adds a humorous twist. When the main character, Gordon, decides he’s not interested in being the subject of this look-and-find adventure, the narrator tries to salvage the book by finding other characters and things for the readers to find instead. In doing so, the book adopts the interesting technique of breaking the fourth wall; the characters interact directly with the narrator, giving it a similar feel to classics like The Monster at the End of This Book or the more current The Book with No Pictures.
Ruth Chan’s fun and colourful illustrations are chock-full of action without feeling chaotic; there is so much happening on each page that readers could easily be entertained for hours finding little treasures. My kids at home particularly loved the carnival page and the museum page. The eighth graders at my school appreciated the mall layout; they loved the bull entering the china shop and the “Arachnopologie” store. The thought and detail that went into these illustrations is so evident, and it really pays off in terms of making the book that much more special.
At the risk of possibly reading too much into what is perhaps just intended to be a fun activity book for young kids, there is a lesson here about consent: Gordon points out that he actually doesn’t want to be found. Jane, the next subject of the narrator’s searching, also doesn’t want to be found and goes so far as to run right off the page. Gordon points out that perhaps the narrator, instead of just choosing at random, should ask who wants to be found (teachers take note! I definitely had a moment of flashback here as I recall crossing my fingers that the teacher would not call on me to “volunteer” an answer in class). On second thought, I don’t think I am reading too much into it; it’s too well done to be accidental.
Like Where’s Waldo? with a twist, Have You Seen Gordon? is a new must-have on kindergarten or home bookshelves.
Allison Giggey is an intermediate school teacher-librarian in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.