Book note: Moppets’ monograph marks Minnesota milestones


Record high gas prices have many Minnesotans staying close to home this vacation season. Now, I’m not one for suggesting that a book (or any product, for that matter) can do much to ease that mid-summer wanderlust, but if you’re on the market for some reading material to offer your children a glimpse of the Minnesota you remember from your own gas-guzzling, road-tripping formative years, I Spy With My Little Eye: Minnesota might do the trick. Written by Kathy-jo and Ed Wargin and published by Sleeping Bear Press, this book paints a portrait of Minnesota that might be straight out of the gift shop at Lake Itasca State Park (you know, along with the rock candy and the birch bark piggy banks).

I Spy With My Little Eye: Minnesota, a book by Kathi-Jo Wargin and Ed Wargin. Published by Sleeping Bear Press (2008). $13.95.

Each page features two colorful pictures: on the left, the original, and on the right, an altered version. The game is to find the differences between the two. Simple rhymes and a few “fun facts” are the only text in a book that is largely interactive. Each page has its own Minnesota-specific theme—fishing, Split Rock Lighthouse, the State Fair. The pictures are fun and colorful, and they evoke the kind of feeling I still get while looking at summer camp brochures. While I hope that my own child will eventually develop a more nuanced idea of the culture and history of our state, at least the book doesn’t subject us to any “brave pioneers” or condescending platitudes about Native American generosity. It’s a simple book about taking your time and having a careful eye. I like things that help kids pay attention.

Nostalgia aside, what I like about this book from an educational point of view is that it is appropriate for a wide range of ages. Some of the differences are subtle and hard to catch; others jump right out at you. And while my own one-year-old didn’t engage much with the boo—beyond playing its cover like a drum—I have to admit that I kept looking at it (and obsessively counting differences, aiming for the target number noted on each page) long after he went to bed.

Emily Pearson Ryan is operations manager for the Twin Cities Media Alliance.