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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Walk This World; a celebration of life in a day. Written by Jenny Broom and illustrated by Lotta Nieminen. Big Picture Press, Candlewick. Random House, 2013. $20.00 ages 7 and up

"Drizzly streets
and scarlet soldiers,
shiny cabs
and businessmen.
As I pass him
in the rain,
I tip my cap
to old Big Ben."

In another stunning debut, Finnish artist and graphic designer Lotta Niemenen creates the art for a walk around the world, beginning in New York. Writer Jenny Broom deftly crafts the sparse poetic descriptions for each new destination, starting with the busyness of a NY morning and returning there at the end of a long and glorious day.

We are taken on a tour that spans the globe from the yellow cabs and skyscrapers that dot the streets of New York to France, Africa, Italy, Russia, Brazil, India, Australia, London, Japan, and back to the New York nightlife:

"I've walked this world - I left this morning,
saw much more than I could name.
Found that though we might look different,
underneath we're just the same."

The glorious and beautifully designed double page spreads entice globetrotting readers with more than 80 flaps to be lifted. The color palette offers visuals inspired by each of the countries visited.
It takes patience and is worth every bit of exploration to see what the illustrator has in store for her audience. Under each of the flaps are tiny stories: a patron admires the art at the Guggenheim in New York, bakers prepare daily deliciousness for their customers on a Paris street, a woman and her chicken ride a bus in Africa, tourists experience the lean at the Tower of Pisa, in Russia a pair of ballet dancers practice at the barre, an ice cream vendor sells refreshing ices on a Brazilian beach, a swami plays soothing music for a cobra, a shark menaces surfers in Australia, an English bobby keeps watch outside the Prime Minister's residence in London, a tea ceremony is prepared in Japan, and finally, a mother reads a bedtime story to end this fascinating day.

Sure to inspire questions about children and cultures of the world, this is a book meant to be shared one on one, or in a small group, as there is so much to see and to discuss within its pages. Young readers might be surprised at the many similarities they discover, while also noting some of the differences.

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