Fans of the elegantly energetic I Spy picture-puzzle series may wonder how Wick could top the lavish sets he created for I Spy Funhouse and I Spy Mystery. Here, however, he and Marzollo surpass their previous achievements-by reversing direction. While they stick to the same formula (under a full-bleed photo of artistically arrayed objects, verse challenges the reader to find various objects), this time they eschew special effects and razzle-dazzle compositions in favor of sunny spreads showcasing, for the most part, common items. Most sets are basic, from a classroom blackboard to a playground floor to a homemade puppet theater. But each apparently simple spread wordlessly and playfully reinforces learning skills. In a spread featuring plastic numerals from one to 12, for example, each number is surrounded by related objects; a building block emblazoned with "X" and a toy clown wagging the splayed fingers on his hands are among the items illustrating the number 10. The puppet theater is hung with cardboard cutouts of figures and props from classic fairy tales. Other sets teach such concepts as sets and patterns, cleverly integrating items seen on previous spreads. By stressing the value of everyday objects, this ingenious volume will encourage readers to look closely at not just the pictures, but at their own surroundings.
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