This Is How We Do It: One Day In The Life Of Seven Kids From Around The World (Matt Lamothe)

Hello, friends! Our book today is This Is How We Do It: One Day In The Life Of Seven Kids From Around The World by Matt Lamothe, a fascinating look at the differences and similarities in daily life across cultures and continents.

The first page proclaims “This is me,” and we are introduced to real-life children from seven locales: India, Iran, Italy, Japan, Peru, Russia and Uganda. We meet their families, learn about their schools, and gets a taste of their daily meals and chores. At last, as they tuck into their different beds for the night, we are shown that while their daily lives may be very different, they all share the same night sky.

Very interesting! Concise, matter-of-fact text describes the daily lives of the subjects, occasionally underlining a vocabulary word that is then defined in the glossary in the back of the book. The art is the real star here, using detailed, realistic digital illustrations that either recreate or emulate photos of the children’s lives. Social issues are sidestepped, understandably – this is meant as an introduction to global thinking, especially considering the final spread. However, this is definitely not meant for little bookworms to read in a single sitting: while JJ adored the art, the text is strictly informational and there’s a fair amount of it, so she was getting pretty squirmy 2/3 of the way through. But for slightly older readers, this is a great way to begin thinking about the larger world around them, and the children – both unlike and and just like them in many ways – in it. Baby Bookworm approved!

People (Peter Spier)

Hello, friends! In honor of Multicultural Children’s Book Day, we read People by Peter Spier, a stunningly illustrated exploration of worldwide cultures.

There are a great many people that share our earth, billions to be exact. And those billions of people come in all shapes and sizes, colors, cultures, religions, and more. People eat different foods, they celebrate different holidays, they speak different languages. All of these things are beautiful, unique, and part of what makes our diverse, multicultural world wonderful.

Visually, this is a stunning book. Spier’s detailed, intricate illustrations are endlessly fascinating, and you could spend an hour picking out the fine details included on every page. Plus, the core message, that diversity is one of the great and precious elements of our world, is important and treated with earnest reverence. But in a book published nearly 40 years ago, there are some cringe-worthy bits (outdated statistics, Inuits referred to as “Eskimos,” a depiction of Black Peter, to name a few). It’s also an overtly honest book, discussing death, inequity of power, poverty, and other realities of life, a fact that can be viewed positively or negatively based on your preference. It even features a bit of nudity in a title page that depicts a tiny Adam and Eve (just their bare tushies, but still).

I’ve heard that in later editions, some updates to the text were made, but I cannot speak to them (we read the original 1980 copy). Overall, this is a gorgeous book that means well, but shows its age. JJ really enjoyed it, too, so I’m torn. I would say give this one a read first (the updated version would likely be preferable), and see if it’s right for your child. But for its art and overall message, we’ll call this Baby Bookworm approved (with an asterisk).

Rice & Rocks (Sandra L. Richards)

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the author in exchange for an honest review.) 

Hello, friends! Today’s book is Rice & Rocks, written by Sandra L. Richards and illustrated by Megan Kayleigh Sullivan, a fantastic story about how food can bring cultures together.

Giovanni is looking forward to having his friends over for his family’s Sunday dinner, but is dismayed when he hears what his grandmother will be serving: Jamaican rice and beans or, as he calls them, rice and rocks! He is sure his friends won’t like such a weird dish, but his favorite Auntie and Jasper, his talking parrot, surprise him by offering to take a magical trip around the world to show Giovanni that, while he may not know it, there are plenty of cultures who enjoy “rice and rocks” as a part of their traditional meals!

Conceptually, this book is brilliant: tying different cultures together through their shared cuisine is, to my knowledge, a completely unique idea for a children’s book (SO many cultures use rice and beans as a staple food). It’s a brilliant way to show that no matter how dissimilar we may appear, we all enjoy the same foods. In execution, the book does extremely well: the dialogue is informative and entertaining, and the pace moves at a good clip for young readers. There are a few instances where characters could have been either cut, consolidated, or fleshed out more, but for the most part, each one is lots of fun, especially the other birds from the cultures they visit. Also, the length might be a bit much for very young baby bookworms, but older babies should handle it fine. The illustrations were another high point: they were colorful, highly detailed, and complimented the story very well (the food in particular looked delicious enough to eat)! Overall, this is an exceptionally unique book with a fantastic message and a great look, and we loved it! Baby Bookworm approved!