Spot Goes to School – Eric Hill

More in the Series – Spot
“More in the Series” scores the other books in a series where one (or more) of the books have made it into the 1001 Books list. Mostly because I’m a bit of a completionist. 

POINTS: 3 out of 10.

Bechdel: 0 points
Variety of characters: 0 points
Good story: 2 points.
Discretionary ideological points: 1 point.

As you may have noticed by now, I am a big fan of interactive books for kids. The Spot books were one of the forerunners of this kind of “lift-the-flap” book. This one is pretty typical. I don’t personally think it is as charming as the original Spot book, but it’s cute enough, and given C has only recently started school, he was rather taken with the whole “school” aspect of it.

No Bechdel pass, since the only two named characters are Spot and his teacher Mrs Bear. Though Mrs Bear and the dog I assume is Spot’s mother do say good morning to each other, so it’s nearer to a pass than most of the books we’ve looked at so far.

The characters are all animals, but there is no explicit diversity or even so much as nods to any culture other than a pretty WASPy one.

All that being said, it’s a pretty entertaining little book – very successful at what it is: a simple lift the flap, boldly and simply illustrated kids picture book about a very relatable little puppy.

I don’t have that much more to say about it really. C definitely enjoyed it, and obviously related to Spot’s school experiences – it engendered conversation and comparison about his own school life. That sort of reliability goes a long way.

It’s not going to be challenging any status quos, but I’d still recommend it. Nifty little book.

What do you think? Are you a fan of Spot? Do you like interactive books as much as I do?

Kipper – Mick Inkpen

POINTS: 2 out of 10.

Bechdel: 0 points
Variety of characters: 0 point
Good story: 2 points
Discretionary ideological points: 0 point

This was my first experience of Kipper, and we both really quite enjoyed it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really get anywhere on our scale.

It’s a pretty standard “no place like home” kind of story. Kipper decides to clean out his basket, gets rid of the dirty half broken things therein, discovers that without them his basket isn’t comfortable, goes gallivanting about to see if any of the things that are comfortable for other animals (lily pads for frogs and nests of twigs for squirrels) will work for him, discovers they do not and ends up back in his comfy old basket with his old smelly blanket and bunny and chew-toy. It’s some classic “explore to find out there’s nothing quite like home” stuff, really.

There’s no dialogue except for Kipper’s, and no human (or explicitly female) characters, and very little in the way of status quo challenging ideas. Still, it’s a neat little tale, and while part of me (probably the part that is a nomad and has traveled very far from my home over the years) is always a bit skeptical of the message that the place you start is ultimately always the best place for you, being happy with who you are and where you belong is not awful either, I suppose. 😉

C and I enjoyed reading it, he loved the various animals. It was entertaining enough.

Not a high scorer though, and not earth-shattering by any means. This is a comfortable white bread book. Which I guess is sort of the point.

What do you think? Are you a fan of Kipper? Am I being too hard on it?

Where’s Spot? – Eric Hill

POINTS: 3 out of 10.

Bechdel: 0 points
Variety of characters: 0 points
Good story: 2 points. Simple but effective.
Discretionary ideological points: 1 point

Where’s Spot is the original “lift the flap” book. Created originally as a fun activity for his son, Christopher (seems like authors love to name their kids Christopher, huh?), Eric Hill had no intention initially to publish it, but once it became apparent how much his kid loved it, he did, starting a whole genre of interactive picture books.

And it stands the test of time, too. It’s incredibly simple – a dog is looking for its puppy because it is dinner time. Under each flap is a strange animal (apparently this home is a menagerie), and (SPOILERS!) Spot is eventually found in a basket. The pictures are bold and colourful and lovely. The animals are wonderfully depicted. It has charm and humour, and, as anyone who has ever read a “lift the flap” with a child knows, the interactivity is a delight.

There are no explicitly female characters, though I suppose there is some implication that the parent dog is a mother. It’s never stated though. And, of course, since all the characters are animals, there’s no explicit diversity either. Having said that, the book has one foot in fantasy, and therefore isn’t obviously depicting a particular worldview, grand pianos and wardrobes notwithstanding. Still, there isn’t anything to warrant giving the book those points.

I’m giving it a point for interactivity though, because I’m a big believer that interactivity in kids’ books encourages active reading, and that’s always a good thing. And of course we both had fun reading it, so it gets points for that too. 🙂

Not a high scorer, but still definitely recommended, especially for very little people.

What do you think? Are you a fan of the “lift the flap” approach? What’s your favourite?