Around the World
by Ana Koza
Outskirts Press

"Let's go around the world and meet some of my friends!"

The main character of this picture book is Ellie, a six-year-old American girl who can identify earth's seven continents. Ellie conducts her readers on a worldwide tour to meet some friends—one child from each continent. At every stop, we meet a boy or girl, learn their name and find out an interesting fact about their lives. For example, Ellie introduces Mariana from the European continent who plays in the park and whose favorite food is made of tomatoes, cucumbers, and meatballs. We meet Abassi from the African continent who loves to read and help his friends with learning. The last stop is Antarctica where we are greeted by native animals frolicking on the ice.

Learning about the world, especially through maps, is an upcoming trend for picture books. At the head of this wave is Around the World with its brightly colored maps playing a major role. Ellie introduces the continents from a flattened world map while mini-maps are splashed in a corner of each two-page spread. Koza's text is set in readable font and centered midway down the left pages. Action drawings of Ellie and her friends, illustrated by Shaun Crum, fill the right pages. Crum's drawings capture the kids with joy-filled faces in their native surroundings. The artwork is captivating, and parents will appreciate the opportunity to teach their children geography.

Koza passes on to children, including her own, the appreciation for other cultures she acquired while living in Mexico as a child. The conclusion that "we are all the same" is distinctly American, as is Ellie, the main character.

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