Monday, June 1, 2015

Time: Geographic happenings around the world

There have been a couple of books recently which look at the idea of time and the activities that transpire around the world at the exact same moment.

First is At the Same Moment, Around the World by Clotilde Perrin.  The thin, oversized format of this book is very appealing with light, airy and sometimes whimsical illustrations. The activities attribute to each of characters reflect what you’d expect for the geographic area and culture. For example, Keita lives in Senegal and at 6 o’clock in the morning helps his father count the fish he caught during the night. At the exact same time that Keita is counting fish, Ivan in Anadyr, Russia is walking his dog at 6 o’clock in the evening.  At the same moment, at one o’clock in the morning baby Diego is born.  Waking up, eating meals and going to school are all included here.

The end sections include information about time zones and the development of technology that allows us to measure and synchronize time accurately. There is also a fold out map that connects the characters in the book with a place in the world.

I would recommend this for early elementary grades.

The second book, The World in a Second by Isabel Minhos Martins and Bernardo P. Carvalho does the same thing but activities are not always what you might expect; three dogs feel a tremor in a Venezuelan city; a man has his mustache shaved off in a barbershop; a breeze finally stirs somewhere on the high seas; and so on.

I found this book quite different from the first with the way the happenings convey a sense of a story  unfolding in each of these seconds.  For example, “A thief opens a door (perhaps to his own house, it’s impossible to say.)”  Or even, “A girl hurries home from school.”  Or, “something important slips from a woman’s fingers.”  All of these glimpses of a second in time beg to have more of the story shared.  So, what will happen with the thief walking into the house?  Will the woman at the sink give her husband a kiss hello or will she scream that she’s being robbed?  Why is the girl hurrying home?  Is she late?  Maybe she has a surprise waiting?  What could it be? And what was the important item dropped by the woman hurrying away?  A letter? A scarf?  Why was it important?  What will she think when she discovers it’s missing?

The illustrations are blocky and dense, with a real graphic feel. Compared to the first book, the illustrations are simple, without as much detail. Nevertheless, they usually contribute a few elements for your imagination to work through to create a sense of mystery. Each two page spread is just a quick glimpse into the lives of others in different parts of the world.  There’s no time to stop and see what will happen next.  Time here is very mobile (well, okay maybe not in the Moroccan village where time seems to have stopped (p.16)).

The World in a Second does include a map of the world showing the locales of each stop.

I think older children in elementary school and middle grades would get the most out of this book. Use this in the classroom to spark the imagination to develop stories.


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