Can You See What I See?: Toyland Express: Picture Puzzles to Search and Solve by Walter Wick. Scholastic / Cartwheel Books (October 2011); ISBN 9780545244831; 40 pages
Book Source: Review copy provided by publisher
Wick is a genius at creating and capturing incredible, imaginative scenes -- so many fabulous trinkets and toys are all captured in his photographs. The beauty of a Walter Wick search and find puzzle book lies in the dizzying variety of objects and the impressive sets. What my kids wouldn't give to live in his studio and play with all those elaborate sets!
Like Wick's other books, Toyland Express is full of all sorts of delightful finds. Besides the Toyland Express train, readers get a chance to search for more than 250 hidden objects in this fun, photographic adventure that portrays the life of a little blue toy train. The train is created and painted in a workshop. Then it goes from store window display on to become a beloved birthday gift. Later, forgotten in the attic, it finally ends up in a yard sale and finds another loving home. The toy train storyline unites all the photographs in the book and gives the book an interesting fictional depth.
Toyland Express is the first Can You See What I See? series book my family has read though we've read many of Wick's I Spy books together. We really enjoyed watching the story of a toy train unfold in the photographs. We also learned about a new-to-us Wick character, a "bead boy" named Seymour! Seymour is a cute character that Wick hides in all the Can You See What I See? books. (Here's a little fun tidbit: Seymour is *gasp* "naked" (devoid of paint) in parts of the Toyland Express book!)
So where did Wick get the fabulous wooden train in the book? According to the endnotes, he designed the train himself and his workshop team created the models. For those kids with interlocking wooden train sets of their own, the layouts in the book provide a ton of track layout inspiration. We wish we had a set of Tinkertoys so we could try creating our own Tinkertoy train bridge like the one shown on the Mountain Pass page. The Toyland page (shown in the photograph to the right) depicts a really neat city layout using blocks and cardboard box buildings. See the word "Toyland" under the tracks spelled out with alphabet blocks? Amazingly creative!
My son and I couldn't resist creating our own wooden train toyland. Here's our version, inspired by the book:
By the way, the book would make a perfect gift companion to a train set. Snatch up your own hardcover copy right away -- it's selling for an unbeatable price of only $6.99 (MSRP $13.99) at Amazon.com.
Scholastic has kindly offered to give away a SIGNED copy of Can You See What I See? Toyland Express to one very lucky Brimful Curiosities reader! (We're a tad jealous!)
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