Monday, November 12, 2018

Review - This Is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from Around the World

This Is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from Around the World
by Matt LaMothe
Date: 2017
Publisher: Chronicle Books (CA)
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book non-fiction
Pages: 52
Format: e-book
Source: library

Follow the real lives of seven kids from Italy, Japan, Iran, India, Peru, Uganda, and Russia for a single day! In Japan Kei plays Freeze Tag, while in Uganda Daphine likes to jump rope. But while the way they play may differ, the shared rhythm of their days--and this one world we all share--unites them. This genuine exchange provides a window into traditions that may be different from our own as well as a mirror reflecting our common experiences. Inspired by his own travels, Matt Lamothe transports readers across the globe and back with this luminous and thoughtful picture book.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

Before I opened this book, I saw some reviews that complained about the lack of diversity in the makeup of the families (they all have a mom and a dad). I would argue that that argument somewhat misses the point. This isn't a book where kids are supposed to see themselves reflected in what they're reading; this is a book that aims to show kids about different lives and experiences that they might not have any previous knowledge of. I didn't expect to see a lot of gay couples raising kids (especially considering being gay can land you in prison in at least one of these countries), although a single-parent family might've been a nice inclusion. Keep in mind that these are real families, so these seven just may have been some of the ones most willing to participate. That said, I wish there had been more than seven children featured, at least so the book could've covered a few more areas of the globe. Oceania isn't covered at all, and I wouldn't have minded seeing a family in the far north (Canada or Alaska).

I read Children Just Like Me years ago, and really liked that glimpse into the everyday lives of kids from around the world. This book is similar, though instead of using photos, it's illustrated, and it goes through the events of a typical day, showing how each of the seven children eat, learn, play, and even sleep. I think I would've rather had photos than illustrations (I liked seeing the photos of the actual families at the end), but that's a minor complaint. There's a glossary at the back of the book that explains the unfamiliar words that are underlined in the text, which is a nice touch.

Even as an adult, there are things in this book that surprised me. I had no idea that some kids eat dinner at 9 or 10 in the evening (I would've been in bed hours before that)! Seeing the different meals was one of my favourite parts of the book. I was surprised at how many kids drink water. One little kid in Peru even drank coffee! The education section was interesting, too; kids in Japan study ethics and kids in India study value education (subjects that weren't really covered at my elementary school).

Aside from a weird layout problem in the glossary (one of the definitions seems to have gotten cut off, which may just be an issue with the e-book formatting), this is actually a pretty strong book. And I like the message at the end, that no matter our differences, we're all still looking up at the same night sky. This would be a great book to use in a classroom, or even just for kids who like learning about other kids around the world.

Premise: 4/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 4/5

Enjoyment: 4/5

Overall: 3.67 out of 5

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