I had no idea that Walter Wick, creator of the “I Spy” and “Can You See What I See?” children’s book series, has been working on his best-selling picture puzzle books in a renovated firehouse just a few miles from our house. With 43 million copies of his books in print, I’m guessing I am not the only parent struggling to bite my tongue at bedtime when I’ve found the objects on the page and my kids are still hunting. Or the only one letting her kids stay up late until we’ve found every last item on the page.
We were lucky enough to take a tour of his awesome studio last month.
Wick designed the space for his “I Spy” creations, complete with a carpentry workshop, rows and rows of storage for his carefully sorted toy bins and seemingly endless natural light for his photography.
Every scene takes Wick and his team nearly three months to create. A book can take nearly a year.
When you work on the books page by page, you might not notice the story in each book. In the “Can You See What I See? Treasure Ship” book, the first page zooms in on some dazzling treasure: a gold coin and a strand of pearls. The next pages continue to zoom out further and further, first on the treasure and then on a larger scene of which the treasure is a small part. As you turn the pages, you realize the treasure is actually in a ship in a bottle in a gift shop on a boardwalk, on a postcard. Every dizzying page is a photograph, with scenes and props meticulously designed by Wick and his team.
In the latest book, “Can You See What I See? Out of This World,” a princess from the past meets a robot from the future. Click here to see how the stagings from his workshop (shown below) turn into the pages of the book.
Wick has hidden a little figure named Seymour (SEE MORE!) on each page and his name once in each of the “Can You See What I See?” books. Just as we like hunting for Goldbug in some of the Richard Scarry books, my kids and I loved going through our books looking for Seymour.
The boys and I hope to set up own I Spy scenes and take some photographs of them this summer (it’s letter S on our Summer Alphabet list). Happily, I found a great tutorial at Scholastic.com and on Delia Creates by a mom who amazingly made her kids their own travel DIY I Spy books starring their very own toys.