Adèle and Simon hit the road again! They previously explored America and Paris, but they are now headed to China to visit their photographer uncle, Sidney. This is the China of more than a century ago, allowing today’s children a trip of their own.
First stop is Hong Kong, where Sidney takes the two youngsters on a shopping spree. Simon gets a hat, a jacket, a knapsack, a flute and many other items while Adèle opts for one large gift: a camera so she can record her journey just like her uncle. Readers familiar with this series knows what is to come: Adèle will write postcards home to “Dear Mama” and Simon will lose an object at each stop. At the Shanghai silk farm, he loses the yellow scarf. Careful readers will pore over each detailed, colorful pen-and-ink illustration to find the missing object. Older eyes will undoubtedly have to search longer and harder than young eyes, but no matter the age of the searcher, it’s great fun to finally locate the missing item. (This time the scarf is in the mouth of a dog.) On each page, the search is made more challenging by the artist’s color choices; the missing yellow scarf is exactly the color that most of the people are wearing in this spread. Searching for the red abacus on the following scene means discerning it from the many sticks of candied apples that are the same red. Thankfully, McClintock provides a dandy picture of the items in Adèle’s early letter to Mama, and readers can flip back and forth to help remember what the objects look like. When Adèle develops her photos after the trip, she sees a record of each missing item.
McClintock also includes tiny thumbprint pictures with fascinating factual information of each spread in the backmatter, further adding to the fun for older readers and adults. Many children learn Chinese at school these days, and it’s easy to see teachers using this picture book in class, even with much older students. The historical information, maps and thumbnail guide to this enormous country will certainly fascinate any child with an interest in China. While comparisons to Where’s Waldo? are inevitable, Adelé and Simon’s journeys are much more interesting, encouraging readers of all ages time to slow down and read the detailed pictures. Repeated visits will reveal more and more details—eye candy at its very best!