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The Children's Bookshelf: Have You Seen Gordon? - January 3, 2022

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Have You Seen Gordon? written by Adam Jay Epstein and illustrated by Ruth Chan is a playful picture book of hide and seek that starts out fairly-easily but gets more and more challenging to the reader’s eyes as the story goes forward. It is a delightful visual hunt!

Interestingly, the storyteller talks directly to the reader as well as conversing with Gordon. The places in which the reader is asked to find Gordon include a busy beach, a city, a happy amusement park, a farmer’s market, a museum, a parade, a crowded parking lot and a huge shopping mall where they sell worms as an early- bird special between 7 and 9 am! These colorful venues are packed with busy animals and entertaining situations.

As the story progresses Gordon, who is supposed to be hiding puts on a showy pink and yellow hat that draws attention to him. Then, he tells the storyteller and the reader that he no longer wants to play this find Gordon game. “I don’t want to hide anymore. I’m proud of who I am. From now on I want to stand out.” This statement is wise and not found in most “seek and find” books. There’s also a surprise outcome on the final page.

Have You Seen Gordon? written cleverly by Adam Jay Epstein and illustrated with digital mastery by Ruth Chan is packed with playful visual stories housed in the details of each spread---these animals are full of action. Young readers 4-8 years of age will enjoy this oversize book of fun (Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021).

The Children’s Bookshelf is a production of WCMU. Links to the podcast and the Activity Questions can be found at Children’s Bookshelf dot org.

Activity Questions for Have You Seen Gordon?

When Gordon wanted to be seen he put on a pink and yellow hat with polka dots. If you wanted to be noticed what kind of a hat would you wear? Would you select a baseball cap, a snow hat, a sun hat or a bathing cap? How would you decorate your hat so it would get people’s attention? Would you attach things that whirl on the top of your hat or draw pictures on it? Now, draw a picture of your attention-getting hat!

Look through the book and make a list of all the different kinds of animals that are pictured in this book. You will need to take time with each illustration. Look carefully. It will be a long list.

Which illustration in this book did you like best? Why?

Did the final illustration surprise you? Look back at what both Gordon and Jane said to the storyteller about not wanting to be the center of attention. How do you feel about what they said? Have you ever experienced a time when it was nice to be the center of attention? Think about when you played sports, gave a report or helped the teacher with something in class. Write a paragraph about that experience.

Sue Ann Martin is professor emerita of Communication and Dramatic Arts and the founding and past Dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts at Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. She first became interested in children’s literature when she wrote her PhD thesis on the oral characteristics of the Caldecott Award-winning children’s books. Her PhD is in Speech and Interpretation with a cognate in Early Childhood Education. She went on to review children’s books for the Detroit Free Press, write three popular resource books for teachers regarding children’s books and the creative process. She also reviewed newly-published books for Arts Almanac specials on WCMU Public Radio. Her 2002 children’s books special for WCMU won a Merit Award in Special Interest Programming from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters.