The picture-book equivalent of “It’s a Small World.”


From the Around the World series

Third in a series of informational picture books for preschoolers and early-elementary readers about children around the world (Families Around the World, 2014, etc.).

Children often wonder what it would be like to go to a different school. Each spread of this oversized picture book explores that question. Starting with Tamatoa, who attends a Cook Island school (where the children learn the Ura language and dance the hupa), the page turn finds Raphael in an international school in Singapore (where lo mein is just one of the canteen’s many lunch offerings). Further page turns bring readers to China, Kazakhstan, Ethiopia, Kenya (where Mathii lives in an orphanage), Turkey, Germany (a boarding school for Johannes), Denmark (part city school, part forest school), Venezuela, Honduras, the USA (home-schooled twin sisters) and finally, a First Nations school in Canada. There’s more than a bit of sameness to the flat, brightly colored, paper-doll–like illustrations, an irony given that the author has gone out of her way to present a welcome diversity of backgrounds. Each school looks well-funded, and there are no overcrowded or single-sex classrooms pictured. This volume could provide a starting place for classrooms that study children around the world, as the backmatter points children to organizations that raise funds for building schools and libraries internationally. These excellent resources give a more honest view of the state of international education than the book itself.

The picture-book equivalent of “It’s a Small World.” (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-77138-047-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2015

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.


Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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