A dadcraft Favorite: Mamoko Picture Books

  by Andrew Wolgemuth

Sometimes a book is needed but What should we read? isn’t actually the right question. Say the workday was a long one, and you’re looking for something with a little more Kick-Back-and-Relax than Do-Funny-Character-Voices. Or maybe you can tell that the young readers’ attention spans are low-ish … and something special is needed to keep their noses in a book.

What should we look at? may be the question of the moment in such situations. If so, the Mamoko books provide a great answer.

I’ve found that these unique look-and-find books work for a nice, broad range of ages. Nine-year-olds (or so) will typically find characters more quickly than younger kids, but—with just a little extra guidance—a three-year-old can join the adventure discovering fun.

Perhaps the “look-and-find” genre comes with a little baggage (Oh, great … a Where’s Waldo? book. Thanks because I was looking for a new reason to squint at pages and give myself a headache.). Mamoko books are in that Waldo vein, but they’re easier (characters and objects are less difficult to find) and they possess more of a story to follow. Actually, there are lots of stories to follow. But—aside from the opening introductory page—there are no words to guide you. It’s all about following the pictures.

Here’s how it works: The opening page has a brief introduction to the main event that the book is centered around. It also displays a bunch (fifteen to twenty) of characters that can be found on every following spread of the book. Each of these animals/creatures has a distinctive look, notable clothing, a name, and a question for you to keep in mind as you find them on each page. For example, the first book in this series (Welcome to Mamoko) notes that, “Tonight is the Town Carnival, but will everybody be able to go?” Then we’re introduced to characters like:

Tomas Spot [a spotted dog] is on a walk. How does his day go off track?

Como Lens [an alien] is just visiting. But who is interested in his photographs?

Daniel Daub [a … monkey?; accurate genus and specie isn’t a focus in Mamoko] has an unusual day. What does he do with his lucky gold coin?

With your kids’ input, pick a character to follow through the book (Pro Tip: including some that aren’t noted on the introductory spread), discover the answer to the guiding question, and see what other characters they interact with as they journey to the Town Carnival. For example, turn past the introduction page, search a little, and find Tomas strolling along a sidewalk (his day is still on-track, it seems), Como getting beamed down onto the street from the mother ship (camera strapped around his neck), and Daniel rising with a yawn (no lucky gold coin in sight). On the next spread … well, you’ll need to discover that yourself!

After Welcome to Mamoko, there’s The World of Mamoko in the Year 3000. As you’d expect, futuristic adventures unfold in these pages. The third book in the series is The World of Mamoko in the Time of Dragons which depicts “antics [that] were going on in the land of Mamoko back in the times of fair maidens, kings, and courtiers.”

Whatever the time period for the book, Mamoko is a solid answer to What should we look at?


Another of our favorite author / illustrators is Oliver Jeffers, and other dadcraft favorites can be found here.