Author: Strickland, Tessa and Kate Depalma
Illustrator: David Dean
Publisher: Barefoot Books
Publication Date: October 1, 2016
Audience: 5 – 8 years
Summary: With its opening pages this book invites children (and those who read to them) on an around-the-world exploration – a venture in comparative anthropology in a beautiful picture book. Multiple features of world-wide contemporary human civilization are lovingly and joyfully laid side by side. Every aspect of everyday living – dressing, eating, bathing, playing, learning, living in families, working, learning languages – is appreciatively explored in brilliant illustrations and simple text.
Literary elements at work in the story: Every topic introduced in its colorful pages is accompanied with brief descriptions of the activity, always ending with a question about the readers’ own setting and practice. For example, when describing homes, the authors ask, “Do you have a special place? Perhaps a place where you go when you want to play with a friend or daydream or just be quiet for a while?” The questions throughout the book inspire intimate and insightful conversations between children and those who love them. The book ends with an emphasis on every person’s unique life story and the declaration that everyone belongs in the world we share. This is a cheerful book with bright illustrations showing characters enjoying their diverse lives.
This is really two books in one. The latter third of the book invites adult and older children to “Take a closer Look at the Illustrations.” This section expands cultural understanding by offering rich details about the simply explored themes of the book’s first section. Illustrations are reintroduced along with brief explanations of cultural practices and geographical details.
How does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story? The book’s global exploration rarely begins with white western examples. The explicitly multicultural format and content of the book introduces readers to our big, diverse world. Children of all ages and ethnicities, various life circumstances and both sexes are featured again and again throughout the book. Because this book is so appealing to young children, their introduction to people unlike themselves offers an opportunity to shape their outlook on differences.
Theological Conversation Partners: Beginning with the call of Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3, right through Jesus’ admonition to care for the needy and welcome the stranger (Matthew 25:31-46) and continuing with Paul’s declaration that there is “Neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male or female (I Corinthians 12:13), the gospel message has been one of welcome, inclusion, and understanding. In the call of Abraham, God declares that through Abraham all the peoples of the earth shall be blessed. Throughout the Hebrew Bible we find admonitions to welcome the stranger. Jesus insists that every time we welcome one we do not know, we welcome him. Paul gives us a glimpse through God’s eyes as he erases the human distinctions we employ to categorize people and groups.
Rather than negative admonitions of what NOT to do, this book gives a joyful, appreciative, sometimes funny glimpse at human diversity and the many gifts it brings.
Faith Talk Questions:
- Do the people in this book remind you of someone you know? Who is it? What are they like?
- What things do they do differently from the way you do them? What do they do that is the same?
- Name some ways we can make people who are different from us feel welcome. (Smile, talk to them, tell them your name, ask their name, ask them to play with you or work with you.)
Thanks to Professor Jane Vann for the book review this week.