Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Hello World: A Celebration of Languages and Curiosities

Hello World: A Celebration of Languages and Curiosities

Jonathan Litton
Illustrator:  L’Atelier Cartographik 
Novelty Nonfiction Book
For ages 5 to 7
Tiger Tales, 2016   ISBN: 978-1944530006

In the past, before the advent of easily available (and affordable) modes of international travel such as planes and ships, many people did not travel to countries that were far from their homeland. Their understanding of, and appreciation for people who spoke different languages and who were culturally different was minimal, and so their view of the world was somewhat narrow. These days many people travel far from their homes, and they also connect with people all over the planet thanks to social media and the Internet. We think nothing of talking to someone who lives thousands of miles away via email, text message, or video call.

In this wonderful novelty title, young readers will get the opportunity to learn the word hello in more than 150 languages from around the world. The content is presented in the form of an atlas, with double page spreads that are richly illustrated, and that are packed with flaps to lift. As they explore the book, readers get to travel to Europe, North America, South America, Asia, Africa, and Australia and Oceania.

The author begins with an introduction to his book in which he reminds us that the word hello “starts friendships,” it will “open doors,” and it “brings smiles.” We are invited to try to say the ten hellos on the spread in front of us. For each one there is a flap to lift, and under it we find out how to pronounce that hello and how many people speak that particular language. The author also takes this opportunity to tell us that in addition to learning hellos, we are going to find out about two forms of sign language, how to decipher street signs in Tokyo, how to write hieroglyphs, and much more.

We begin our trip around the world in Europe, where more than one hundred languages are spoken in more than fifty countries. In some countries, like in the United Kingdom and Spain, several languages are spoken. In one region in particular, the Caucasus, so many languages are spoken that the local people say that they live in a place where there is a “mountain of languages!” As children explore the hellos, and the countries these hellos belong to, they will see how some neighboring countries often have the same or a similar word for the word hello. For example, in Latvia the world for hello is sveiki and in Lithuania it is sveikas.

Next we go to North America to learn about the hellos spoken in Canada, the United States, Central America and the Caribbean. We also learn how to say hello in the language spoken in Greenland, and how to say three short phrases in Greenlandic, which is a challenging language to pronounce. In addition to English, many Canadians and Americans speak other languages such as French, Spanish, German, and Chinese. Then there are the indigenous North American languages, and there are dozens of these spoken throughout the region by native peoples.

Young readers are going to thoroughly enjoy exploring this book, which will give them a taste for the languages that are spoken around the world and show them how diverse and rich our human cultural heritage is. Beautifully illustrated throughout, and with flaps to lift on every spread, this is the kind of book that a child can spend a lot of time