Friday, October 30, 2009

Around the World in Seven (and More) Letters!

Letters Around the World
by Thando Maclaren
Illustrated by Liz Pope & Kate Pope

Ages : 4-8

Letters Around the World is a charming book by Thando Maclaren, and not just because of its unique narrative style. Through this collection of letters exchanged between pen pals across the world, the reader is transformed into a globe-trotter. The letters are colourful sheets tucked inside envelopes and my four-year old takes great joy in taking them out and 'reading' them, and insists on sitting with the globe and pointing out where each of the children lives. The cute illustrations by Liz and Kate Pope describe what the children talk about in their letters.

Emily, a little girl who lives in London, writes to children in countries around the world. She tells them where she lives, who she lives with, what her favourite things to eat are, who her best friend is and what she likes to play. She also draws her favourite things on the envelope and on the letter.

Meena from India replies and tells her about her village in Uttar Pradesh, about her family and the things she likes and does. From Trinidad, a six-year old called Darren writes back and tells Emily about himself. So does Nadia from Indonesia, Marika who is Maori from New Zealand and Muhammad from Tanzania.

Emily is thrilled to get all these letters and replies to them. She describes her recent visit to her grandparents' place in the countryside and asks about their holidays. In reply Meena tells her about a wedding in her family. She describes the road trip to the neighbouring town, the feast, the wedding clothes and decorations and the bride's jewellery. Darren tells her about his beach holiday, Nadia about their visit to Kebun Raya which is a large botanical garden outside Jakarta. Marika talks about a Maori feast she had recently been to and the rituals around it. Muhammad describes the birth ceremony of a baby in the extended family in a neighbouring village.

This delightful voyage tells the reader that despite differences in children's lives in various cultures, what matters most to them is the same really - love of and for those around them. A more obvious impact on my daughter has been a great interest in the business of writing and sending letters. We have done a trip to our local post office, and her lucky cousins have received letters narrated and illustrated by her!


utbtkids said...

Not available in the library :/
This is llike the 10th book that is not available.
We are reading abt post office/postal system by Gail Gibbons.

Tulika's Sameer's House, the Gail Gibbons book and this book would complement each other. Bummer.

Meera Sriram said...

Very novel! I think the presentation and the subject can excite kids. Lovely.

Anusha said...

pen pals never go out of fashion - they just become email/twitter/text pals :)
"letters tucked inside envelopes" - that is ultra cool!

sathish said...

wow! nice one.

it is sad that the letter writing has gone the sunset way.

Praba Ram said...

Oh, living in an email-driven world, definitely a neat idea to introduce the joys of sending and receiving letters to little ones through a book that directly speaks to them!

Thanks for bringing us this, Chox!

Choxbox said...

utbt: sameer's house is cool indeed!

meera: it is indeed.

K's mom: LOL!

sathish: pretty much like 'proper' old-fashioned pictures vs. instant digital ones, eh?!

praba: my pleasure :)

Poppy said...

OMG this book sounds really interesting and hey Cho, our visit to the Post Office was very interesting too - too many questions even I couldn't answer properly :)

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