I spy with my little eye…

posted in: Edward Gibbs | 15

…something beginning with B… or even BB… Yep, a Brilliant Book!

I Spy with my little eye… by Edward Gibbs takes the well known, eponymous game and transforms it into the most beautiful of books. Every other page the reader is invited to guess what “I can spy with my little eye”, through a cut-out circle that gives us a glimpse of the following illustration. Each guess is based not on what a word begins with, but rather its colour, accompanied by a short hint, for example “I spy with my little eye… something that is white. The North Pole is my home.

Gibbs’ illustration are sumptuous. Large scale, filling each page to the brim with a bright burst of colour, his animals are majestic and rather awe inspiring. The sense of anticipation created by the peep-holes only adds to the excitement and enjoyment of these wonderful pictures, which at times remind me a little of Catherine Rayner‘s work.

A super book for learning colours, for interaction, both between reader/listener and the book, and between the adult playing the game with the child listening, I’d really love to see I Spy with my little eye… available as a board book – I think the vibrant colours, the holes, the playfulness and the short text all add up to make this a book perfect for sharing with the very youngest of children.

Inspired by this post from the Artful Parent following a suggestion from MaryAnn Kohl, I prepared some pieces of card with a variety of holes cut out to see how the children would respond. How would having holes in their drawing surface influence what they drew?

Very quickly the game became drawing a frame of some sort to go round our faces:

This made me think of What’s Wrong with My Hair? by Satoshi Kitamura, a fun book by an illustrator I particularly like, and also The Book with a Hole by Hervé Tullet

M also wanted to create images which “teased” through holes, so I prepared some card folded over with holes cut out and waited to see what M came up with.


Whilst drawing and making holes we listened to:

  • Anna Kick a Hole in the Sky by The Nields
  • Black Hole in My Room by Recess Monkey
  • There’s a hole in my bucket – lots of versions are available, we’ve been listening to this one sung by Harry Belafonte and Odetta


  • Other activities which would work well alongside reading I Spy with my little eye… include:

  • Letting the kids play with the hole punch – M loves doing this! If you want a more structured activity you could try this ladybird craft from Busy Bee Kids Crafts which makes use of a hole punch.
  • Making the wild animals featured in I Spy with my little eye…, for example a whale (by us), an elephant (by The Honorable Mention Preschool Blog) or a lion (by Busy Bee Kids Crafts)
  • Creating an I Spy bottle – Counting Coconuts has a great tutorial here.


  • What are your favourite children’s books with holes? Of course there’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar, but we also like There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, illustrated by Pam Adams. For a long time M’s favourite book was Where’s that monkey? by Dan Crisp where the holes disguise what is actually on the following page. I’d love to have some more suggestions though of course!

    And on a technical note, can any of you recommend something for cutting large-ish holes out of paper and card? I draw around saucers/bowls and cut out the circles, but is there a cutter you’d recommend instead?

    Disclosure: I receive my copy of I Spy with my little eye… from the publishers. This review nevertheless reflects my own and honest opinion about the book.

    15 Responses

    1. Rosalind Kirby

      What a fun post – lots of ideas for summer holiday activities!
      I know you mentioned a Hervé Tullet book, but to recommend another… H (who is 17 months) is currently loving ‘The Game of Finger Worms’, which just continues to tickle him even after multiple readings in a short space of time!
      C also loved the other Dan Crisp books in the series – we have ‘Where’s that fish’ and ‘Where’s that duck’ and both gave him many months of happiness!

      • Zoe

        Rosalind, thanks for the further recommendations – it’s it great that such a simple thing as a hole can result in so much fun!

    2. Darshana

      Great review! Sounds like such a fun interactive book. Seeing your hole pictures with your faces in them reminded me of a “A Book with a Hole” by Herve Tullet. My kids love reading/playing with that book. As for cutting, have you considered using an exacto knife?
      Darshana recently posted..TBR Bookshelf

      • Zoe

        Indeed, ReadItDaddy, why isn’t Kitamura better known? He’s so much fun.

      • Zoe

        Hi Jean, how wonderful that you’ve dropped by! I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to do your holes activity for months and months. Was so glad when the perfect book enabled it!

    3. victoria

      Zoe, do you know that Edward Gibbs has two other books in this series, also with holes? There is I Spy Under the Sea and I Spy on the Farm. They are very popular in my library. I agree with you about them ‘feeling’ like Catherine Rayner. We thought that when we saw it first.

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