Can You See What I See? The Night Before Christmas: Picture Puzzles to Search and Solve, by Walter Wick (2005)
From the photographer of the I Spy books comes a book full of Christmas confusion and hidden surprises!
When I taught fifth grade, I could pretty much assure you that there was an I Spy book in at least one student’s desk at all times during the year. Sure, some of them would check them out because they were easier to read than your typical chapter book, but these kinds of books have the advantage of requiring some reading (for the rhymed list of different hidden objects) and strategy skills (for seeking out the hidden objects–some require a real quadrant-by-quadrant search to locate!) but having an appealing look and the power of popularity to draw kids in and bring them together–nothing is more fun than poring over one of these with a buddy!
In this book, the author/photographer uses the theme of “A Visit from Saint Nicholas”/”The Night Before Christmas” to craft each scene. The first search, called “Night Before Christmas,” shows a table covered with Christmas cards, ornaments, and treats and lit by a few candles. Others, like “Visions of Sugarplums” have items scattered (strategically, mind you–never just tossed out there) across a plain or multicolor background instead of set in a scene, giving the appearance of floating out in space. I find the second type somewhat easier to search, but that doesn’t mean that some of the items are not still hard to find! Part of the difficulty is knowing whether to scan for a realistic item, a toy, an ornament, a candy or cookie, or an image on another object (that nearly elusive red barn on the “Such a Clatter!” page!), and some of the items are either unusual (because they’re an older/antique item and harder to identify) or very small (like the tiny moon painted on an ornament on the first page). For some kids, half the fun will be finding other random objects or objects that appear in more than one scene. If a child has grown tired of the game or is frustrated because of not being able to find a certain object, you can always issue a challenge to find, for instance, all the buttons on a page or all the red items, to redirect or engage on a different level. (This method also works for sharing these books with younger children with less experience with this kind of book; find something more obvious on the page that you know the child will recognize, and have the child find that item with you instead of doing the full (intended) search and being overwhelmed or put off by the book.) Another idea for using these books, especially with budding photographers, is to have the child construct his or her own scene to photograph and copy the style of the book to give you a list of items to locate in their self-styled picture puzzle. However you choose to use the book, it’s a great opportunity for a laptime snuggle with a younger child or just close mom-and-me or dad-and-me time with an older child, hunched over a book with your heads together. Perfect for downtime during the busyness often surrounding Christmas!