Just Imagine

Who’s Hiding in the Woods? Who’s Hiding at the Seaside?

Authored by Katharine McEwen
Illustrated by Katharine McEwen
Published by Nosy Crow

A delightful pair of books that introduce children to specific habitats and the animals that live in them.

Each book explores a habitat with each double page taking a different angle: in the woods book, seasons and time of day and in the seaside book, different seaside locations. The books provide a fun and colourful way for children to explore a specific habitat and learn more about what they would find there – both the things we might easily see and the things that tend to stay hidden from sight. Children will love discovering the ‘unseen’ elements by lifting the different flaps on each page. The illustrations are fabulous – full of colour, texture, detail and depth. I particularly like how, in the seaside book, you get to see both above and below sea level, while in the woods book, you encounter the same animal at different times of the year and see how they are behaving differently according to the season. 

The author elegantly mixes narrative and non-narrative styles. A story-telling style moves the reader through the text, using repeated phrasing (It’s … at the ….. Some animals are … and some animals are …. Who’s hiding here?), a lovely range of verbs to describe what the animals are doing ( scampering, scuttling) and, in the seaside book, alliterative adjectives (bright and briny). Meanwhile, each lifted flap reveals a fascinating fact about a specific animal (Hedgehogs sleep during the winter in hidden nests. This is called hibernation) with bolded words to identify what can be seen in the picture and lots of subject-specific vocabulary.

The familiar topics, the mix of narrative style and the beautiful illustrations mean that these books could be enjoyed by children across a fairly wide age-range (3-7 years old and even beyond if approached from a ‘find out about’ angle). They would work particularly well if used alongside topic work (seasons, habitats, animals, natural world, world around us etc), especially if you had the chance to actually get to these places and spot any of the things discovered in the book and they would, of course, be a good recommendation for any individuals with an interest in the natural world.