Saturday, July 18, 2020

Our World: A first book of geography by Sue Lowell Gallion, illustrated by Lisk Feng

I generally avoid "toy" or novelty books, but if something is interesting I'll take a second look - especially right now, as I am working to add more storytime kits, maker kits, and circulating toys to our collection to take the place of our STEAM labs, play areas, and activity table.

I was intrigued when I heard about this item, because I've liked the books that I've seen from Sue Gallion but this seemed like such a different venue - nonfiction, a novelty board book that turned into a globe, and an illustrator new to me.

Physically, the book is an over-sized board book. It's a little over 12 inches high, but narrow. It's basically the picture you see folded in half. When opened, the art is a round circle and the text is below, on the globe's "stand." The pages are sturdy, stiff cardboard. When completely opened, magnets in the edges of the front and back cover snap together, making a colorful globe that stands upright on its own. The hinges appear sturdy enough to stand up to multiple uses.

Gallion's text is in two parts. On the left side of the "stand" is a simple, bold sentence, part of the rhyming text that makes up the read-aloud portion of the story. "Many places to explore,/From mountain peaks to ocean floor./Look around you, step outside.../Find forests tall,/and grasslands wide." Each sentence matches a biome or area of the earth shown on the "globe." On the right, in smaller font, is a fairly dense paragraph of information about the area shown. So "Rivers, lakes,/Oceans deep." which shows a picture of three different watery landscapes, a river, a lake and an ocean, is accompanied by a simple explanation of the water cycle, the depth of the ocean, and how much of the world is covered by water.

Soft edges and lush colors show a jungle scene, a polar landscape with penguins, and a simple view of the continents, among other pictures. The scenes end with a view of outer space, putting our own small planet into perspective.

I wouldn't add this to a typical board book collection, because of the lengthier text and detail of the illustrations. However, it would make a great addition to a storytime kit or as part of a unit on geography or global studies. I plan to use this copy in a storytime kit with other manipulatives and books. It would also make a great gift for kids interested in learning more about the world but young enough to need a very simple introduction.

Verdict: If you have a place for this in your library collection or classroom, it's a nice resource to have on hand for young children.

ISBN: 9781838660819; Published July 2020 by Phaidon; Review copy provided by publisher; Will be added to geography-themed storytime kit at the library

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