________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 17 . . . . April 25, 2003

cover My World: A First Word Book.

Chez Picthall.
Markham, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2002.
61 pp., cloth., $19.99.
ISBN 0-7791-1383-7.

Subject Headings:
Vocabulary-Juvenile fiction.
Picture dictionaries, English-Juvenile fiction.

Preschool / Ages 2-5.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

**** /4


Notes to parents & caregivers

My World, A First Word Book was created with the help of parents, educational experts and professional writers, especially for young children. My World will help parents, caregivers, and teachers explore early-learning concepts with children under the age of five, by creating an environment that encourages communication. My World will build essential preschool skills in the area of number recognition and development.

Entertaining, educational and with challenging questions to stimulate young minds, My World includes the words that most children are familiar with by age five. Bright, colourful photographs of familiar and unusual objects help stretch children’s vision of the world around them.

The unique, themed presentations will help young children make vital connections between numbers, words and pictures. Building these skills is a necessary preparation for those all-important years of school.

In addition to the above “Notes to parents & caregivers,” the book also provides parents and other adults with a brief guide to “Using this book” which correctly points out that My World is not meant to be read cover-to-cover. Instead, the child is encouraged to browse and to set her/his own pace in “reading” the volume. The “Contents” page reveals that the book’s contents are arranged into 32 thematic sections, with each segment usually occupying a pair of facing pages. After such “basics” as Colours, Shapes, Patterns, My Alphabet, and Numbers, the book begins in the immediate environment of the child via My body (which bypasses the gender specific parts between the tummy and the knees), What I wear, At home, The family, In my home, In the kitchen, What I eat and drink, Fruit, Vegetables, Playtime, Bath time, and Bedtime. The themes then begin to enlarge the child’s universe via In the garden, In the workshop, At school, Out and about (parks), At the store, On the move (forms of transportation), In the country, On the farm, and At the beach. Finally, the book stretches the child through Wild animals, Amazing creatures, Baby animals, Weather, Seasons and Time. The last category, Time, does not attempt to teach children how to tell time, but instead simply uses the time divisions they experience, such as sunrise and sunset, night and day, plus mealtimes.

internal art

     Each theme is introduced by a number of questions of various types which the adult reader can elect to use as starting points for discussing the contents of the pages’ many full-colour photographic illustrations. For example, on the “What I wear” pages, the child is asked, “What do you wear when it’s cold?” and “What are you wearing now?” Some 30 clothing items are illustrated and labeled. On the “Vegetables” page, which contains photos of 16 different vegetables, from the more common, like peas, potatoes and carrots, to the possibly less familiar, such as eggplant, squash and mushrooms, the child is asked to “Name all the vegetables! Find the potatoes! Count the green vegetables!”

     Children and adults are sometimes included in the photographs, and they generally represent the diversity found in today’s multicultural world. As well, the “At home” pages include a range of types of “homes” and go beyond the detached single house. Missing, perhaps, is the urban high rise apartment. “The family” page is quite traditional: father, mother, grandfather, grandmother, son, daughter (all Caucasian) plus a dog and a cat. The “Bath time” pages are somewhat unsuccessful regarding the photos accompanying the words “powder,” “bubble bath” and “shampoo” as the generic containers simply are not immediately recognizable.

     Despite the small quibbles above, My World is a book that youngsters will likely return to many times. It merits being in all home collections and should be part of all libraries serving this age group. Day care facilities should also purchase it.

Highly Recommended.

Dave Jenkinson teaches courses in children’s and young adult literature in the Faculty of Education.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364
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