I have to confess that until I became a mother, I always thought 'Where's Spot?' was the first in Eric Hill's series, and it remains the best known, but I have to say that we find that particular title a bit dull. The ones my son and I enjoy have more of a story. The Spot brand has clearly been published in many different versions over the years and what is currently available in bookshops seems quite random. I only wish there was a complete Spot collection one could buy. Instead, I'm forced to scour charity shops for all the old editions – that's where I found Spot's Birthday Party, a press-the-button-to-make-a-sound book which my son can't get enough of, and a plain story book of Spot Goes on a Picnic – my son doesn't seem to mind the lack of flaps to lift and wants to hear every word of the text-heavy story.
It's all about Spot's character, you see. It seems that a little boy can really relate to a happy, cheeky little puppy. Spot Bakes a Cake is a classic: it's the tale of how Spot 'helps' Sally, his mum, bake a cake. But really (as in real life baking with a small child) all he actually does is make a huge mess. My son's favourite page shows Spot 'mixing' the cake shouting 'Wheee!' while Sally says 'Spot! That's enough!' with her hands in the air. It's wonderfully funny, simple and realistic.
I was saddened to learn that Eric Hill, OBE, who created Spot, died in 2014. He began to draw Spot stories in 1976 for his two-year-old son Christopher (Where's Spot? Was published in 1980) and he actually invented the whole concept of lift-the-flap books, which gives me a new appreciation for the original story Where's Spot?. What a brilliant man.
You can find out more about Spot and his creator on the Spot website.