Imagine a children’s book that takes root from a classic game that every child plays at one point. The game takes place usually when kids are between 5 and 7 years old, doesn’t require any money, is difficult to have a proven winner and sometimes involves a little man who is ¼ inch tall. Don’t Blink! is a children’s book that takes the seminal children’s game, blink and provides it with visual cues for kids to laugh along to.
Don’t Blink starts off with a little girl, about 9 years old sitting alone in a field. A bird flies into the conversation and the girl says that she’s having a staring contest. When the bird doesn’t see anybody the girl says it’s with the kid reading the book. From here all manner of critters join the game.
An alligator, fox, monkey, giraffe, frog, a slow moving turtle and more all make their way across the page to sit beside the girl and play the game with the reader. As the game goes on the girl encourages the animals to stay strong with their eyes open. However, just like the real version of blink, some of the animals get tired, lose concentration and blink.
What makes Don’t Blink! a fun picture book for kids 6 are the details and the way that author Tom Booth does-and doesn’t use them. Throughout the book the active parts of the story happen on the left hand page. The girl sits there and the vast majority of the animals enter and remain there until the end of the game.
The right hand page is reserved for slow moving animals like the alligator and giant tortoise. Relative to the tortoise, the alligator makes his way beside the girl very quickly. For most of the book the right page is devoted to the tortoise and its slow inch-by-inch creep to play with the girl and the other animals.
For our 5 year old it’s the tortoise that gets most of the laughs from Don’t Blink!. He’ll giggle as he notices the animal getting closer, its subtle facial changes and a big “I told you so”, when the turtle finally meets the girl. His louder laughs and comments are reserved for the animals that gather around the girl throughout the book. He points to the new animals, tries to see if any of them move from page and page and most importantly, smiles as we read the book to him.
Younger children might not know about the staring game, but they’ll love the animal illustrations, learn basic sight words and understand the subtle jokes going on. The books makes great use of every space on the pages and ends the way a good children’s picture book should-with a smile and gentle nod to read the book again.