Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

My Multicultural Atlas

My Multicultural Atlas

Benoit Delalandre
Illustrator:  Jeremy Clapin 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 6 to 9
Tango Books, 2013   ISBN: 978-1857076844

Usually when we look at maps we see that they show the borders of countries, natural features such as mountains, rivers, and lakes, and the location of human settlements. Some special maps will show us where deserts, forests, wetlands, and lands covered with ice are found. Many will tell us the names of countries, seas, oceans, mountain ranges and other features.

   In this usual atlas the author and illustrator have found interesting ways to tell is more about the places on our planet. After we are shown some world maps, we begin an in-depth tour of the continents, beginning with Europe. A fold out page reveals a map that shows us the countries of Europe. Opposite, there is a map showing us how land is used in Europe and we see where forest, tundra, and agricultural land is located. A series of diagrams between these two maps explore the kinds of biomes that are commonly found in Europe.

   Next, we take a cultural tour of Europe. As one would expect in a place where there are so many countries, Europe is populated by people who live in a variety of homes, and who have different customs, cuisines, and traditions.  We begin our tour by taking a look at the countries in northern Europe, which include Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Annotated artwork gives us interesting details about these countries. For example, we learn that a man from Denmark invented Lego, and in Sweden there is a hotel that has to be rebuilt every year because it is made out of ice.

   Out next stop on our European tour is in Western Europe, where we learn a little about the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland.  On this page we learn, among other things, that Belgium is the home of several famous cartoon characters including Tintin and the Smurfs.

   The author and illustrator then go on to tell us about Eastern Europe and Southern Europe. Then we continue our journey around the world by going to Africa, the Americas (North, Central, and South), Asia, and Australasia.

   With wonderfully detailed maps and illustrations, and fact-packed annotations and notes, this book teaches young readers about countries and about the people who live in those countries. Children who are interested in far off places will have a wonderful time exploring this unique title.