Friday, July 27, 2012
THE NIGHTS OF THE WORLD by Corinne Albaut
I picked this book off the shelves to review because I wanted to give it as a gift to a friend expecting her first child. The book, which takes its reader on a journey through five different regions of the world, is beautifully made, with a thick, sturdy cover, double-thick pages made of cardstock-weight paper, brightly colored art, sliding panels, and simple text that seemed perfect for bedtime read-alouds.
The story introduces the reader to five different children: Kendé, Kamanga, Melisse, Siiku, and Machiko. Each child is featured on a one page spread, with sliding panels on the right-side page that pull out to reveal a secondary picture and text. Each page follows the same pattern: “At night, Kendé falls asleep on a woolen carpet. By day...[pull out picture panels]...he marches through the desert, in step with the camels.” For each new region, the background and font changes to reflect traditional ethnic patterns.
I have two major concens with this book. First, the pages don't mention the actual location of that child. For example, Machiko sleeps on a futon, and by day, lets the wind steal her kite. As an adult, I know the author intended her to be from Japan. But some of the others are more ambiguous. Secondly, I would be concerned that, as young readers get older, this book might reinfornce traditional stereotypes about people in faraway cultures. The seemingly Inuit Siiku, for example, sleeps inside an igloo, hugged by a polar bear. While this makes for a pretty picture, it's not at all the lifestyle of modern Inuit people. In fact, I can't imagine they EVER slept with live polar bears!
That being said, I will still give the book as a baby gift. The pictures are pretty and the pull-out tabs are a great way for young children to interact with a text they can't yet read. It's sturdy enough to withstand the rough play of a baby or toddler. I can easily foresee this being a fun way to create a bedtime “community” of characters – all of whom bunker down at night without a fuss.