'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.' - author Jackie French

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Review: Hello Atlas

It's just so lovely to see books that do things differently--I know I go on about this all the time--but it's so important. Most books are 'new' to children, especially the very young, but adults adore and value children's books, too, and there's nothing nicer than opening a book without thinking 'seen it before'.

Kids also need a massive amount of variety in books, to encourage engagement and finding something that resonates with them.

Hello Atlas is another addition to a very popular genre at the moment but it still manages to stand alone in terms of originality.

Opening with a map dotted with a splash of diverse kids, we move on to a foreword by Wade Davis, Professor of Anthropology, on world languages--who teaches us some fascinating facts. For example, 7,000 languages are spoken around the world, but 80 per cent of the population speak just 83 languages. Isn't that incredible? He also talks about the importance of celebrating and honouring languages, which encapsulate our very cultures.

Indeed, as the book unfolds, we meet kids of many and varied cultures, introduced in comic-style strips and full page plates, making for truly luscious double-page spreads.

Each child utters only a few words, yet the effect is absolutely entrancing, and had me consistently reaching for my iPad, desperate to find out what Zapotec (spoken by Indigenous Mexicans in the Oaxaca Valley--a civilisation that stretches back 2500 years) and Armenian and Farsi and many others, actually sound like.

click to enlarge

Truly stunning digital illustrations are not only adorable, they're lusciously textured and coloured, with eye-popping black accents.

At the back of this 80-page book, we can learn further phrases from each language/child shown in the  book, along with where these languages are located.

Hello Atlas is an encyclopedia of fascinating content that will deeply engage kids of all ages, as they both relate to the characters and learn something truly fascinating. It comes with a free app that can be download at the App Store or Google Play.

Title: Hello Atlas
Author: Ben Handicott
Illustrator: Kenard Pak
Publisher: Wide Eyed, $32.99
Publication Date: 1 October 2016
Format: Hard cover, cloth-bound
ISBN: 9781847808493
For ages: 5 - 12
Type: Picture Book, Information Book

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