30 years ago a cartoonist named Eric Hill created a simple lift-the-flap book for his toddler son and parents have been paying the price for it ever since.
That first lift-the-flap book Where’s Spot? is rather cute, unhealthy but from that simple beginning the Spot books became something of a machine. Titles include: Spot Loves His Mommy, viagra 60mg Spot Loves His Friends, Spot Loves His Teacher, Spot Goes to the Farm/Park/Circus/Psychic Fair and of course the inevitable Spot’s Colours/Shapes/Numbers that no popular children’s book publisher would think of not doing when that is obviously money in the bank. I believe they have covered almost all of the holidays too. A quick Google search told me that the Spot books have been translated into roughly a billion languages which probably includes Klingon and Sindarin (elvish).
Spot, for those of you who don’t know, is a precocious golden dog (retriever?) who lives with his parents (Sally and Sam and eventually a little sister named Susie) in a house where they do everyday human things like go grocery shopping, make cakes, garden, have sleep overs etc.
These are my problems with the Spot books:
1) He is annoying and I can’t recall him ever saying please or thank-you. He probably does but not enough for my liking.
2) The artwork.
3) His friends. Especially his friends.
A blue blob named Helen, a crocodile named Tom and a monkey named Steve. Who names a monkey Steve? I have thought about this for months – did he look at that monkey and think: this looks like a Steve? Or did he just pick names out of the obituaries one day. Helen, in case you can’t figure it out, is supposed to be a hippo. And no, at no point does Tom ever try and take a bite out of Spot.
Of course, Moira loves them. She always seems to find these books at the library and I hate to say no because really there is nothing wrong with them (and it beats listening to Eeyore whine or reading anything with Dora or princesses in them). These books are super-simple and easy to follow for small children and there is something about them that makes her want to read them again and again and again until she is reading them to me. Some of them aren’t that bad the first half-dozen times you read them (unless his friends are in them and then I can’t help but stare at Helen’s awkward shape). But there are so many other good books in the world I still can’t help but wonder at Spot’s popularity.