It took us ages and ages and ages to finally get this book in! For many reasons, mostly having to do with my own disorganization. We are a stationery shop that also happens to sell books, and because the happens to sells books part is mostly a fun little add-on for me, it sometimes gets a little wayward. In any case, the book is Have You Seen Gordon? By Adam Jay Epstein and Ruth Chan.


Here’s the description from the publisher:


A Time Best Children’s Book of 2021!


Packed with vibrant and dizzying artwork, this hilarious story cleverly riffs on classic seek-and-find books and will have young ones laughing out loud as the narrator struggles to get the characters to play along.


Have you seen Gordon? Oh. There he is. Gordon isn’t very good at hiding, is he?


The narrator wants to play hide and seek with Gordon and the reader, but Gordon just wants to stand out. This madcap, fourth wall–breaking picture book is packed with humor and full, zany spreads with details kids will return to again and again.


This book is fun and funny and the kids have been loving it. The illustrations are colourful and there are so many tiny, hilarious things to find.


After emails and accounts and out of stocks and procrastination, we got this book in, a lively animal adventure. We are sort of big on books here, books for kids, books for adults, books overdue from the library, books of all sorts, and this one is particularly nice because there’s so much to engage with, things to ask the kids to recognize, various creatures doing various things. People sometimes think because I used to be a teacher I must be good at reading books to or with kids, but I taught older kids, who were reading chapter books, only the occasional picture book making its way into the classroom. It’s actually only after having had my own kids that reading books with young children has become its own adventure, and that I’ve discovered the looming and cavernous and kaleidoscopic world of children’s books, variously rich in detailed pictures or new places or difficult feelings or delicious words or a donkey in underwear. Sometimes after the fortieth reading I’m spiraling the drain somewhat, so it’s nice when a book gives you enough to have a different journey through it with each reading. I sometimes worry about Caleb’s intellectual stamina, given his enthusiastic loyalty bordering on fanatical zealotry to comic books and graphic novels, that he will never be able to fully immerse in some magical worlds still out there only in chapter book form, but when you read with your kids and they’re totally with you, eyes glued on the page, gleeful belly laughing, and stinky feet tangled up with yours, I suppose the pedagogy doesn’t matter too much.


That’s not to get too pedantic about the whole operation of reading to kids. It should mostly just be fun for everyone, and both Caleb and Naomi have been enjoying this one, again and again.




And, what a complete shock and heart attack and thrill and just rollercoaster to spy our own tiny shop. Ruth Chan, the illustrator, wrote us an email to let us know when the book came out, and I basically fell over. (I have low blood pressure.)



This stationery adventure has been full of taxes and monsters and a pandemic and boxes with broken bottles of ink and also the most surprising gifts of brightness. My cup runneth over again and again, and I am full of gratitude for the people who have found their way in our little island of pens and paper and tiny joys.


You can find Ruth Chan on Instagram here.

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July 22, 2022 — Liz Chan



Ruth said:

Thank you so much for this incredibly kind, thoughtful, joy-filled post about Have You Seen Gordon! I am honoured and so glad I could sneak Wonder Pens into the book ;) You hit the nail on the head about making a book that could sustain multiple reads and I loved being able to figure out fun ways to do that. Here’s to more wonderful family time reading books together (and perhaps unlocking the axolotl’s secret message in this one?!)!

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