Will he play soccer? The trumpet? Baseball? Will he run track? Be President of his class? Ski? Star in the musical or be a stagehand?
One thing is certain.
My son will be really, really good at Where’s Waldo.
Because at least once every day he is in Where’s Waldo Training, practicing his look-and-find skills with a new favorite: Hide-and-Seek Duck by Cyndy Szekeres (Sterling, 2010/originally published Golden Books, 1985).
Hide-and-Seek Duck is a book as sweet as my son.
The first spread reads, “Duck is playing hide-and-seek. He is looking for Little Bunny.”
Szekeres’s illustration of a sweet, smiling, fuzzy yellow duckling dressed in brown, knee-length lederhosen standing in the middle of a field of wildflowers, one of which he is sniffing, is as heart-warming as picture book pictures can be.
It reminds me of why I love Szekeres’s art in A Child’s First Book of Poems and a small child’s Book of Cozy Poems.
I want to pet this duck.
Which is exactly what my son does.
And then he asks, “Hold it?”
And so we make little cups with our hands and pretend to hold Hide-and-Seek Duck.
In the field with Duck are a butterfly, a bee, a beetle, a grasshopper and of course, Little Bunny, who is peeping out from some bushes behind Duck.
“Where’s Wal-, I mean, Little Bunny?” I ask my son. He points to him right away.
On the next page: “Duck looks on top of a tree stump. Owl is there, fluffing his feathers. But there is no Little Bunny.”
“There!” my son points to Little Bunny, who, it is now clear, is cheating…
…with a hiding spot that moves and is always directly behind Duck, this time in a fern.
The next page is at Look-and-Find Skill Level II.
It took my son about ten reads to find Little Bunny on this spread because only Little Bunny’s feet are sticking out from underneath some leaves.
To comprehend that those fuzzy feet are attached to the body of Little Bunny (not pictured) is difficult schematizing for a 20-month-old brain.
But with practice, practice, practice! he now nails it every time.
He finds fuzzy feet and therefore Little Bunny, who is again right behind a smiling Duck.
If newcomers to the book can’t “find” Bunny on this page right away, there are plenty of beetles, blackberries and butterflies to look at instead. Recently my son started pointing to pictures of multiple objects and counting, “1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 9.”
Duck’s search for Little Bunny continues on past Squirrel, who is “crunch-munching” nuts and Chipmunk, who is “taking a nap” in his “mossy tunnel” home complete with a leaf bed, Maple seed wall art, a chipmunk-size blue baseball cap and a little yellow toy car with a green pull string.
From our view looking out of the “mossy tunnel” we see Duck, peeking in, and of course there is Bunny, behind him.
Finally! On the next page…
“Duck looks down. There are two furry paws behind his own feet!” And Bunny’s squinting, laughing eyes say, “Silly Duck! What took you so long to find me! I’ve been right here the whole time!”
Even with it’s interactive element, my son’s mood while we read this book parallels the peace and calm and coziness of the pictures. Often times he doesn’t say a word when he finds Bunny—just silently and slowly points in his direction.
And so, by the second to last line, it’s time to liven things up.
“Boo!” I read/yell, bumping my legs up so that my son bounces in my lap, and then I add “Boo!” “Boo!” because bumping and bouncing are too much fun to only do once.
My son giggles and giggles and finally catches his breath, just as…
“Duck catches him [Little Bunny] with a hug.”
“…it is Duck’s turn to hide!”
Perhaps Duck wasn’t so silly after all…
…guess where he’s hiding?
My son, the soon-to-be Where’s Waldo Aficionado, can, and does, answer that.