Take a search-and-find picture book with bright, fun art, and add history and cats, and I’m sold!
Book: Find Tom in Time: Ming Dynasty China by Fatti Burke
Read before: No
Publication date: 6th August 2020
Ownership: Review copy sent free of charge by Nosy Crow Books. All opinions my own.
If you’ve seen Where’s Wally, you’ll know how this style of book works – on every double page spread there’s a crowded scene full of detail, and you have to hunt to find adventurous Tom and Digby the cat, plus dozens of other fun tidbits. Tom’s grandmother Bea is an archaeologist with a little bit of time travelling magic, and in this book, as she’s showing Tom a lovely green robe, he’s whisked back to where it would originally have been worn: Ming dynasty China! This would suit a slightly younger reader than Where’s Wally, as the level of detail is a bit less intense, but it’s so gorgeous and informative that older kids and adults will love it too. Plus, you get to find at least one cat in every scene, so I’m happy!
Every spread is vibrant and hugely entertaining to look at. The bright, lineless art suits the chaos of each scene, giving the perfect feeling of hustle and bustle and drawing the eye around the page almost endlessly – you almost don’t want to find Tom, just to soak in everything that’s going on! There are little facts dotted about too, which have more information about what’s happening and offer things to look for. Some keywords are bolded, which means they’re defined in a glossary at the back which gives simple explanations appropriate for the younger reader (but be careful, there are also solutions to the puzzles at the back!). Overall, it’s clear you’re meant to take your time looking at each scene, and you’ll really want to. There are some lovely moments of humour in the art, too, particularly where Digby’s getting into scrapes!
The whole ‘Find Tom In Time’ series is developed with the British Museum, so you know that the history is going to be on point, and the book is surprisingly informative! In previous instalments Tom went to Ancient Rome and Ancient Egypt, those staples of the British primary school history lesson – I’m pleased to see some other cultures getting the focus, too. I didn’t know much about Ming dynasty China before reading this, but I really enjoyed learning the facts laid out here – this is a great place to find out a few tempting tidbits that will definitely launch an interest in learning more about Ancient China.
I absolutely love the wealth of fun history books coming out at the moment – my eight year old self would have been over the moon to have these! I’m definitely going to be tracking down the other books in this series just for my own enjoyment, but I can’t wait to explore them with my little one too – five out of five cats!