Wednesday, November 17, 2010

All Ye In Free! Hide! by Jeff Foxworthy

On a Saturday morning
Like many before,
The kids were all restless.
In fact they were bored.

It had finally stopped raining
After nearly a week.
Then they had an idea:
"Let's play hide-and-seek!"

Suddenly it's a kid paradise--a sunny day, a comfortable neighborhood with lots of cluttered garages and greenery with tons of intriguing hiding places, and the kids are off to find their own places while the unfortunate girl who is "IT" counts down to the final call--"Coming, ready or not!"

Jeff Foxworthy's Hide!!! (Beaufort Books, 2010) is no great shakes as a work of poetry, but it is a barrel of fun for young readers. Not everyone lives in an old-fashioned neighborhood where kids range free to find the perfect hiding place anymore, but Steve Bjorkman's captivating illustrations not only conceal the kids but offer an expanding list of other things to seek out in the illustrations, beginning with 1 raccoon, 2 spoons, 3 mops, 4 flip-flops, and 5 monkey eyes.

Most of the kids' hiding places are to be found easily enough, with the possible exception of one ingenious (and strong) girl who hangs out literally, only her tightly gripping hands and dangling toes in sight, on a clothesline behind rows of laundered sheets blowing in the breeze:

Cindy saw places
That her friends ran right by.
It's not easy to spot her.
Want to give it a try?

But the real challenge is in finding, not the kids, but the other objects. Steve Bjorkman's riotous cartoon illustrations leave no stone of the scenery unturned in concealing these items, never in the same place twice. The monkeys are a comic story on their own, even appearing as a carved pedestal for a birdbath; the illusive flip-flops flop all over the place, hanging and flapping everywhere; and the seven trucks appear as real dump trucks parked on the street, tiny Matchbox-sized models dropped in the grass, Tonka-type toys in the sand, and parts of pickups just visible inside garages. When the count gets up to 14 cupcakes, the curious reader will have quite a mental exercise just keeping up with which ones have already been counted in the busy double-page spreads.

Foxworthy and Bjorkman, whose Dirt on My Shirt: Selected Poems (I Can Read Book 2), celebrated in rhyme the joys of boyhood, here offer some I Spy-type fun for young readers not quite ready to take on Walter Wick's complex photographic picture riddles. A great backseat book for car trips or rainy days when it's too wet to start your own game of hide-and-seek.

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