I hope this post is superfluous. Surely everyone has discovered and enjoyed and scoured every page of every book in the I Spy series. (photographs by Walter Wick) Scholastic has been releasing new additions to the series for decades. But then, sometimes we miss things. Hence the value of Story Warren’s Handy Resource Wednesdays.
Now I could just say that you’ll enjoy these books. (I’m talking to parents here. Really. You will enjoy them, too. You’ll find yourself asking your spouse to help you root out that last arrow or plastic pig or magnet. It might become an obsession.) But I would much prefer to roll out a list of my favorite things about I Spy.
- Snuggle Time. Everyone gets to pile on the couch, reposition the lamp, hang over each other’s arms and shoulders, and turn their laser focus on the page. In the winter, on the couch, it’s perfect.
- Building Vocabulary. Every spread contains a list of things to search for in the picture above. While these rhymed couplets don’t qualify as great poetry, they do introduce scores of new words to young children. They get so excited when they recognize words, search out objects with their pudgy index fingers, and make connections. Even for older children, there are archaic and unfamiliar words in nearly every collection.
- Critical Thinking. The search requirements are not always straightforward, and sometimes you learn that there is more than one way to interpret the request. A search for three “jacks” might turn up a jack on a playing card, a jack-in-the-box, and a jack from the classic game (you know, the little silver ones that are scream-inducing when you step on them unawares). The more searches they complete, the more my kids have learned to keep their eyes open, to be aware of every possibility, and to study the page with care. (Improved focus and increased attention span are just an added bonus.)
- Appreciation for Detail. This Walter Wick guy is no slouch. Whether he’s using silver kitchenware items to create a space station or spreading a table full of art supplies and half-finished craft projects or grouping plastic figurines by size and color, his spreads are intricate, realistic, and beautiful.
- Versatility. My kids enjoy the I Spy books best when we’re all working together, but they also look through them on their own. The complicated designs are endlessly enchanting, so the books make great travel entertainment, too. Plus, if you start a collection, or if you check them out from the library and return them, it’s impossible to remember the location of every item for very long. A few months pass, and the books are brand new. You get to discover them all over again.
When I was growing up, especially when we were trapped in the car and bored and whiny, my mother would start up a game of “I Spy with My Little Eye.” Don’t get me wrong. That was helpful. It usually kept my brother and me entertained for several minutes together. But Wick’s collection has taken the game to a whole new level. It’s one of my favorite ways to fill the hours on long, dreary winter days.