AT THE SAME MOMENT, AROUND THE WORLD
by Clotilde Perrin - Chronicle Books, 2014
ages 2 to 12 years / heartwarmers, s.o.s.e., s.t.e.m
One of my children spent a considerable amount of time planning an around-the-world trip – a great way to while away the hours. It sparked a lot of conversation, which led to lots of research and plenty of fantasy play as an offshoot.
I wish we'd had At the Same Moment, Around the World at the time. It’s a fascinating look at children and their families and communities at the same moment around the world.
The book begins at 6am in Senegal and ends, at the same moment, at 5am on a cruise ship in the Atlantic Ocean.
In the middle, there’s every continent, eighteen countries and 24 locations.
Each page takes us to another child in a new place doing something unique, but all at the same moment. There’s enough to connect each illustration so that it’s not disjointed, but each location is beautifully and uniquely represented.
I love that the first page and the last page have the same illustration – connecting the final 5am moment with the beginning 6 am moment.
There’s such real life in the illustrations – each child is living his or her own life and the diversity and connectedness are both very apparent.
One of the hardest things for children (people) to grasp is the inter-connection between themselves and all the billions of other people in the world. By providing a peek into the lives of children and by placing them in the same moment, there’s a feeling of connection.
A child in Australia, for example, might benefit from reading the book at 4 pm (the time Australia is represented in the book) and randomly opening pages to see what children in other parts of the world are doing. (This might not work so well if you live in, say Brazil, where it’s 2 am in the story!)
There’s a section at the back explaining time zones (here's a cute YouTube clip) and a very appealing fold out map – both of which will be useful in explaining the concepts of time, the earth's rotation, geography and so on.
I think a globe would be handy to have nearby while reading it. The pages jump from the northern to the southern hemisphere quite a bit, which is very helpful in explaining latitude - and the illustrations beautifully show wide and varied landscapes, both natural and man-made.
While I love the book for teaching these concepts in a narrative way, I've also found it to be brilliant for:
Connecting us with the rest of the world
Teaching empathy for people with different but equally vital lives
Talking about lifestyles
Teaching the idea that we all need sleep, we all need to eat, we all need to work and so on
Subtly showing people of many races getting on with the business of living
Fostering empathy for people in varying stages of life
Recognising the impact that various levels of financial prosperity have on children
Talking about the experience of immigration and what it means to leave ones home
Teaching that joy can be found in many circumstances
This is a very satisfying book to hold, to read and to own. It will appeal to adults or teens who happen upon it as well as children and early learners who are just figuring out the way the world works. And, somehow, the fact that it was originally a French picture book makes it even more appealing.
P.S. While each page has something special to offer, I confess that I especially love the pages that show places I've been to – Australia, Mexico, Vietnam, Japan. Because those pages so beautifully represent the places I know, I'm left with a yearning to see the other places in the book. It would be a pretty cool travel guide!