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Where in the World?

ImageMy Big World: Facts and Fun, Questions and Answers, Things to Make and Do ($18.95, Thames and Hudson, Ages 4-8) is not your every day children’s book. It was written, designed and illustrated by a group of London-based professionals called Okido who create a children’s art and science magazine of the same name.

My Big World is about a girl named Koko and her fellow explorers who want to learn more about planet earth. At the beginning of the book, readers learn about Koko and her friends and are then invited to make a paper chain representing each member of their own families. We also read more about human geography such as different kinds of foods and where they come from, houses, gardens and how to get around town. There’s even a Busy Town game board in the book that looks like a lot of fun.

Naturally, physical geography is covered and includes rivers and streams, beaches, forests and mountains. There are pages covering weather, animals, oceans, islands, day and night and sun, moon and stars. All throughout the book are activities and games children can play, and some indicate an adult is needed – making a pinwheel for the beach, making veggie burgers, growing your own seedlings.

The book works because it makes kids think about their own surroundings and the way they live as well as how other children who are very different from them live. It also makes them appreciate the environment and encourages them to want to explore new places. Much of the copy is written in short sentences inside speech bubbles making it easy and interesting to read.

This is a big and sturdy 64-page hardbound book, printed on thick paper with lots of color and imagination. There’s a whole lot of information inside, and I love that it is meant to be used as a reference guide for the littlest readers with colorful and inviting illustrations. Between the information and the activities, My Big World will keep curious kids busy for many wonderful hours.

-Reviewed by Debbie Glade

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A Fresh Approach to Learning Your ABCs

Today Debbie Glade reviews two totally different alphabet books, written by two authors from England. Both will please the little ones in your life and yourself, too.

Operation Alphabet ($19.95, Thames & Hudson, ages 3 and up), written by Al MacCuish is a most creative story about a boy named, Charlie, who does not pay attention in class, and then experiences the dreaded “Alphabet-Heebiegeebies.” He so desperately needs to learn his alphabet to pass a test and tries hard to study. But it’s no use. The mysterious “Ministry of Letters,” which is housed inside a red post box next to London’s Big Ben, quickly comes to his aid.  The Ministry works hard to rush a top-secret delivery to Charlie’s house that just might help him learn what he needs to know. In addition to its very original storyline, this book is wonderfully designed by Jim Bletas and marvelously illustrated by self-taught artist, Luciano Lozano. He has a style that is most whimsical and fun.  To top it all off, this is one of the sturdiest and most high-quality-produced books I’ve ever read. The book’s jacket can be reversed and used as an alphabet poster.

A slick and colorful book, Paul Thurlby’s Alphabet ($16.99, Thames & Hudson, ages 3 and up ) is a visual wonderland of letters. Written and illustrated, of course, by Paul Thurlby, this simple book teaches young readers the alphabet through pictures. What I like about the book, is that the words printed – and the illustrations depicted of those words – are not the usual words you see in most alphabet books.  Some of the words are adjectives while others are nouns. But no matter what the word may be, the appealing illustrations make you linger on each page. Like Operation Alphabet, this book also has a book jacket that can be reversed and opened to reveal a colorful alphabet poster. This hardcover book, too, is made from the highest quality materials and is made to last.

You really can’t go wrong with either of these great alphabet books. Why not read them both?!

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