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Friday, September 19, 2014

Families Around the World, written by Margriet Ruurs and illustrated by Jessica Rae Gordon. Kids Can Press, 2014. $19.95 ages 5 and up

"I love weekends. No school!
Sometimes our mothers take
my brother, Joris, and me on
the train to the city. We visit
a museum or eat pannekoeken
on a boat.
Other times we ride our bikes
to the petting zoo, to the
playground or just to another

Children love books that are about other children and the lives they lead. Hopefully, they saw the companion book to this one, Children Around The World. Margaret Ruurs has done a joyful job of introducing us to the families she met as she was researching this book.

These families represent fourteen world communities, and their stories are presented in two page spreads which give readers a real sense of the lives they live daily. They come from all parts of the world. We are greeted in the family's language, and shown words for each of the family members. The families are diverse and inclusive. The voice is first person, allowing a more personal feeling for the information shared.

The beautifully rendered collage artwork allows children reading it a quick glimpse at children who live elsewhere and includes many small details that add punch to the telling. We see many types of homes, settings, and events that help us understand individual customs and favorite daily outings. By showing the reader that children around the world are much the same as they are, the author helps them focus on those things we have in common...playing, family, and the beauty to be found in our different spaces.

Meant to be an introduction to the global world, it is sure to lead those most interested to find further information. If that happens, their world view is expanded once more, as is their understanding of the some of the differences that make each of us unique.

Simple activities are suggested that parents might choose to do with their children to further enhance the reading experience. A glossary will help with pronunciation of the many cultural words used in telling these charming vignettes. It will be a helpful and enjoyable addition to family and classroom bookshelves.

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