Monday, August 26, 2019

Review - Old Man of the Sea

Old Man of the Sea
by Stella Elia
illustrated by Weberson Santiago
Date: 2019
Publisher: Lantana Publishing
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 40
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

Every Sunday, Grandpa waited for me in his room, and I took my place at the foot of the bed. There were days when Grandpa wanted to talk, and days when we sat in silence. Then one day, Grandpa began telling me stories about his life at sea--tales of love and adventure and danger on the ocean waves. And that's when I learned who my grandpa really was...

(synopsis from Goodreads)

At first glance, this is a cute little story that teaches a bit about world geography. I was enjoying it right up until the point where Grandpa fell in love with "America"... and then I realized that this book isn't going to work in North America.

The author being Brazilian, I wasn't surprised by how the book was worded. But the fact that the North American publisher didn't see a problem is what has me a bit baffled. See, South Americans tend to call the collective Americas "America" (with a sometimes violent insistence that I really don't understand; if they want to call themselves "Americans", fine... but they should be prepared to be misunderstood). North Americans, however, don't use that word on its own unless they're referring to the United States. This could be horribly confusing to most North American children, and it could've been easily fixed by referring to "the Americas" rather than just "America". (The text would've suffered a little since the names of the continents are used as proper names, as if they're people. Still, as it is, it's not going to work that well for North American children.)

The pictures are nice and colourful, and it's kind of neat to see the little drawings of landmarks on the various continents (although, I'm not sure why the London Eye is shown in England, since Grandpa apparently fell in love with Europe first... implying that he went there a long time ago, long before that landmark would've been built). I would've liked to see more landmarks for certain places like New Zealand (all it gets are a couple of trees) and for Canada to be less stereotyped (apparently, all we have here are trees, moose, and igloos). The opportunity was there to really show the diversity that the continents have to offer; sadly, that opportunity wasn't taken full advantage of.

I think this will probably play better to non-North American audiences. It's not a bad book. It simply has the potential to be kind of confusing due to the different ways people refer to the continents in the Western Hemisphere.

Thank you to NetGalley and Lantana Publishing for providing a digital ARC.

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

Enjoyment: 3/5

Overall: 3.17 out of 5

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