By focusing this visually stunning book on “dressing up” rather than on the broader topic of clothing, the authors enjoy the freedom of selecting striking photographs of children dressed in traditional clothing, theatrical costumes and masks and school and sports uniforms.
Engaging, sharp photos, including a Chinese boy dressed as an emperor on the cover, young Nepalese Buddhist monks, a Japanese girl dressed in a beautiful kimono and Israeli Hasidic boys inexplicably wearing red fezzes, appear on boldly colored backgrounds. The lack of contextualizing material begs questions: Are the Israeli boys dressed up for Purim, a Jewish holiday when everyone wears costumes? The Japanese girl is probably dressed for Shichi-go-san, a holiday when 3- and 7-year-old Japanese girls and 5-year-old Japanese boys dress in traditional clothing, but the text (limited to very general short sentences such as: “Around the world, we dress up to have fun! We dance and play…” and “Dressing up means celebrating who we are…”) doesn’t reveal any supporting information. Country names appear on the photos, and there is a world map. The backmatter suggests going to folk festivals and museums, questioning adults about clothing and culture and making simple costumes and masks.
Creative teachers, librarians and parents will be able to use this book to start a number of different conversations, but descriptions of the clothing and their special meanings (if only for adult users) would greatly increase this book’s value. (Informational photo essay. 4-7)