Saturday, June 18, 2005

Peek! A Thai Hide-and-Seek

Ho, Minfong. 2004. Peek! A Thai Hide-and-Seek. Ill. by Holly Meade. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press. ISBN 0763620416 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK – 1]

A Thai father is playing hide and seek with his baby daughter in the playful new picture book by award-winning author Minfong Ho, lavishly illustrated by Holly Meade. The father asks each animal that he comes across whether or not it has seen his daughter and the animals of Thailand emerge, as we play peek-a-boo with the father and his baby. Each animal is presented in a two-page spread, with the sound that it makes and rhyming text. For example, the rooster says: “Eechy-eechy-egg, / eechy-eechy-egg” while the father asks “Jut-Ay, peek-a-boo, / Red-tailed rooster, so it’s you! / Flap your wings in the cold dawn air / Is my baby somewhere near?” My kindergarten classes were fascinated to learn that different cultures hear and write animal sounds differently. Minfong Ho uses rhythm to go along with her rhyme to provide delightfully the sounds of her language: when playing this game in Thailand, the phrase, “Jut-Ay” (pronounced shut-A), precedes the phrase, “peek-a-boo.” The repetition of the line, “Jut-Ay, peek-a-boo” provides continuity throughout the book as well as enhancing the authentic feel.

Holly Meade has illustrated the book with lush, vibrant colors that evoke a real feel for Thailand. She uses watercolors and paper collage to brilliantly suggest the atmosphere of the jungle and to lavishly support the text. As we search for the little girl while she hides in various locales, we get a feel for the flora and fauna of Thailand. The end papers are bright orange with Thai script in red, providing an exotic feel to the book. Peek! is a charming story-in-rhyme read-aloud, with the rhythm of the language beautifully depicting the love of a father for his child.

Read this picture book to preschool children who will enjoy it on various levels: some will be more interested in finding the child in the pictures and some will be more interested in mimicking the animal sounds.

Other participatory picture books:
Conrad, Pam. 1995. Animal lingo. ISBN 0060234016
Laden, Nina. 2000. Peek-a-Who? ISBN 0811826023
Ho, Minfong. 1996. Hush! A thai lullaby. ISBN 0531095002

By Cay Geisler

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