cover image Hide and Seek

Hide and Seek

Polly Noakes. Child’s Play, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-78628-182-1

An opening spread invites readers into this winning picture book’s setting: a lush meadow where, as the pages turn, four friends—a bear, a raccoon, a bunny, and a brown-skinned child wearing orange boots—play a spirited round of hide and seek. Noakes (The Very Long Sleep) pitches the story to a preschool crowd with minimal phrases that invite children to look, point, and giggle: “Are you up here? Are you down here? Phew! I can smell you!” But the fun is in the tension between what the words say and the pictures show. The illustrations, layered with varied textures, fold in their own hide-and-seek game: a wolf, seen at first as a set of ominous gray ears, follows the oblivious friends, offering gently shivery suspense. (Spoiler: it just wants to join the fun.) The page turns are well paced, and Noakes adds further interest with intriguing perspectives, as in a spread that shows the friends in their reflections in water and in the story’s bookend scenes, which follow the meadow as it shifts from foggy morning to glowing sunset. While this title may not break new ground, it’s a study in how to design a beautiful book with a young child’s sensibilities firmly in mind. Ages 2–6.[em] (May) [/em]