Where's the Meerkat? Journey Through Time by Paul Moran

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Where's the Meerkat? Journey Through Time by Paul Moran

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A kind of history primer courtesy of the meerkats that don't sell insurance – they just get lost, ready for you to find in detailed double-page spread images.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 48 Date: September 2012
Publisher: Michael O'Mara Books
ISBN: 9781843178040

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It seems that one way for creators to keep kids poring over the pages of their books is to do what the people behind this have done – take most of the words out. There are a few hundred, giving us some brief story about a bunch of meerkats using a time machine, partly by accident, and therefore visiting several different major historical points in time, but one can ignore them, for it is the artwork that one has to scour for ten meerkats, a squirrel and a hawk. And that search is what is going to keep the young of all ages engaged in for quite some time…

King Henry VIII's court, ancient Greece, the Wild West – and Egypt, which I'll admit was the first place I found all that I was supposed to be looking for – are but some of the locations. They're almost as full of detail, humorous incident and charm as the original motherlode of books such as these – the Where's Wally? titles that celebrated a major birthday recently. If history does prove something, it is that there is a danger of Sir David Attenborough's greatest legacy being that of having narrated a documentary about meerkats, such a cultural meme have the cute critters become since. It's unfortunate that these books will serve as unconscious advertisement for some insurance company or other here in the UK, but that's the price to pay.

After seventeen richly detailed dioramas one gets to the end, and the answers – and, helpfully enough, a second checklist of things to look for that were buried in the artwork, thus providing for an immediate re-'read' appeal. I'm not going to pretend this book will launch the young into an interest in history – perhaps the fall of the Berlin Wall might as that became my favourite, but it will certainly help quieten the inquisitive souls down for some time, until they learn just where everything is on each spread. Until then there is a lot to be said for the nonsensically over-populated pages that make up these puzzles, and while a lot of the time it is an unfair little squidge of meerkat head that one has to seek, there are always amusing situations for the characters to find themselves in. It is this search that is ultimately more important than what and who we're looking for and why – reason perhaps to take out even more of the words, and let us just soak in the details of the designs.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

Milly the Meerkat by Oakley Graham and Fenix is for those who came to this actually expecting to find out things about meerkats.

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