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100 Scope Notes
Inside 100 Scope Notes

The Eyes Have It: The Allure of Books That Look at You


The 100 Scope Notes Department of Unscientific Studies just issued a report saying that book covers with large eyes looking at passerby are attractive and are often checked out.

Is this true? I don’t know. Maybe it just so happens that there are a bunch of great books that are looking at you, but for kicks let’s take a look at a few examples and discuss.


Flotsam by David Wiesner

This is one of my all time favorite picture books and it gets checked out all the time in my school library. It has the added interest of being non-human, which I think adds a little mystery to things.


The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

Alright, so this one isn’t exactly looking at you. The lion is looking off to the side. But the 100 Scope Notes Research Department reminds me that Scholastic altered the cover in their book clubs flier a couple years back . . .

Lion Looking

(detailed in this blog post) to make the lion look at the viewer, indicating maybe they were aware of the “looking at you” appeal early on.


The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

This one (and future Selznick books Wonderstruck and The Marvels) take things to the next level. They don’t have to be face out to look at you – the spine does it.

Hugo Spine

Have any additions to this group? Let’s hear it in the comments.

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. The representative from Illinois would like to put in a motion that this post be renamed “Here’s Looking at You, Kids”.

    Because I like bad puns.

    That is all.

  2. I wonder if we could find enough books like this to make a display….

  3. I was thinking of “Wonder” by R.J Palacio, although it’s not a realistic looking eye.