Many little kids dream of visiting different countries, and/or want to learn more about people who live in other countries. In seeking out a book to help teach children about different countries, parents want to find something that is informative and takes children's curiosity and ability to absorb information seriously.
LONG STORY SHORT...
Children are invited to look at a new culture from the point of view of a child who already lives in that culture, and accordingly knows it inside and out. Children are invited to consider culturally relevant nicknames, foods, sports, important holidays, passtimes, and words from the local language (complete with pronunciation guide). Colorful pictures provide beautiful examples of all of the above. This is a wonderfully informative book that I will enjoy reading and re-reading to my son.
Now, my Dibbun (my son - not his real name, this is a nickname adopted from the Brian Jacques "Redwall" books) helped me review Roman's work. He liked it too! My son is a wiggly little boy and this book is a little above his reading level (he is only 18 months old). Yet he actually sat through the whole thing while I read it to him. He rarely does that for books with this many words. Roman - you have earned his attention and approval!
In short, Dibbun and I rate this book a 4 out of 5!
It is hard to find a good children's book that is informative, takes children's curiosity as well as their innate ability to learn seriously, and is actually fun to read. Roman has accomplished all of this here! If you were me... is a delightfully written book that I very much look forward to reading again and again with my Dibbun. The illustrations are colorful, bright, and engaging. The writing is quick and easy to get into, and geared beautifully towards the intended audience. As far as design is concerned, I love how well the words and pictures go together, as well as how they are positioned near/over each other. Visually stunning and a joy to listen to!
Roman's teaching background really shines through here - it is pretty obvious this was written by someone who has read a lot of books to kids and knows the hiccups that can occur when a children's book is not written well.
I learned quite a few things about Norway from this book...though I'm sure my Norwegian friends would shake their heads at my pronunciation of some of the words taught here in the local language. =)
BUT, let's leave this up to the ultimate reviewer - my son!! He is a wriggly little guy who barely sits more that a few minutes in one place unless food is in front of his face. Books that have lots of words (like this one) generally don't hold his attention because he is only 18 months old. This book held his attention. =) He loved it..and especially loved the pictures that included dogs.
Oh, and this book made me incredibly homesick for my home state - Alaska. It seems that Alaska and Norway share a few things in common.
There are just a couple of nit-picky things
One of the words in the local language does not show up in the pronunciation guide - only one is missed.
Most of the things described can describe Alaska as well (Northern Lights, Norway being called "The Land of the Midnight Sun", winter passtimes, ice hotel (there is one in AK too)). This bothered me a bit, mostly because I felt as though something depicting a culture in a different culture should not have so many elements that could be applied to a place within our own culture. There is plenty presented here that is unique to Norway, but still.
I well and truly love this book - it is absolutely delightful!! See, here is one page from the inside: