Have You Seen My Dragon? by Steve Light

As the title suggests, Have You Seen My Dragon? invites us along on a boy’s search for his dragon in the midst of the Big Apple. But what soon becomes clear is that it’s also a really clever counting book, among other things.

The text on every spread is kept very simple to rightly focus on the extremely detailed pen-and-ink illustrations that are set in different but familiar parts of the city landscape — for example, Central Park, Central Park Zoo and Chinatown. The illustrations are also deliberately left uncoloured except for a specific detail which varies from spread to spread — for example, manhole covers, fire hydrants, books and balloons; the colours of these, in contrast, are bright and saturated, so young readers are unlikely to miss out any while counting them, e.g. 1 dragon, 2 hotdogs, 3 buses… all the way up to 20 lanterns. In addition, a different colour is used for each number/spread, to avoid the pages looking too monotonous.

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Besides examining, learning about and counting the different elements that are common in city life, kids will also enjoy pointing out the boy and the boy’s dragon — both of whom have been casually ‘hidden’ in plain sight on every spread. (Except for the first spread, the dragon is left uncoloured so as to make the search more challenging.)

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I especially liked how the items that are counted are naturally incorporated into the illustrations — just like how it is in real life, so kids may be inspired to pay more attention to the often-overlooked everyday objects in any given environment.

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