Rather than a comprehensive trip around the world, a quick expedition to 13 far-flung countries.
A nameless, stateless Caucasian boy introduces friends from some countries not often mentioned in books of this ilk: Botswana, Costa Rica, the Philippines, Morocco, Jordan and Greece. Other countries are the usual suspects: the United States, Canada, Brazil, France, China, India and Australia. An introductory double-page world map includes pages numbers for each country. The cheery narrator proceeds to each place and provides similar facts. Each double-page spread shows a map, the flag and the climate in a little oval. A sight such as the Great Wall of China or the Parthenon is often included, favorite foods (but no recipes) are described, and a celebration is sometimes mentioned. The children the boy meets live in both urban and rural settings, but they take their “friend” to other regions to show that people live in different ways. There is no index or bibliography. All in all, the book, with its upbeat quiz at the end (“In Costa Rica, what volcano did Alberto and I visit?”), resembles an expanded magazine article more than a thoughtful global tour. Pictures such as those found in Music Everywhere (2014) and Maya Ajmera’s other photo essays with Cynthia Pon and other collaborators serve children better than the busy, retro cartoony illustrations here.
Young readers need to know about their peers in other countries, but this looks like a book their grandparents might have read. (Informational picture book. 5-8)