Where Have You Been?

Book review by
Marigny Dupuy, Common Sense Media
Where Have You Been? Book Poster Image
Interactive poems engage young kids.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that these are simple poems that will be engaging to very young kids.

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What's the story?

In six line, rhyming poems, a bespectacled owl with pearls and a purse asks simple questions of fourteen animals. As each replies, Owl writes down the answers in her book. The animals include a cat, squirrel, bird, horse, whale, mole, frog, toad, rabbit, lion, and mouse. On the very last page, Owl asks Rook, "where do you look?" Rook replies, "At the very last page of this very same book," and the illustration shows Rook looking over the shoulder of Owl at the book.

Is it any good?

Playful and sweet, the simple poem rocks gently along inviting the engagement of young readers through the question-and-answer format. Using images from the fanciful language, the illustrations add layers of subplots for pre-readers to follow. For example, Old Squirrel answers that he has been on a whirl. The illustration shows a squirrel with goggles on a helicopter-like flying contraption with a fairy holding on for dear life and the moon rolling its eyes.

Both the poem and the series of cheerful illustrations are fully realized and could stand alone, but the combination is most delightful. Twice winners of the Caldecott Medal and the Coretta Scott King Award, Leo and Diane Dillon create artwork that is beautifully rendered while maintaining a spirit of whimsy. Margaret Wise Brown shows yet again that her authentic voice, well-crafted language, and light-hearted intelligence are enduring.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what the different animals have been doing. Talk about some other animals you see in and around your home. Where do you think they've been?

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