Your World: A First Encyclopedia
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This issue’s cover is from Edward Ardizzone’s Little Tim and the Brave Sea Captain. Brian Alderson discusses this classic picture book, now reissued in a beautiful new edition by Scholastic in ‘Classics in Short’. Thanks to Scholastic Children’s Books for their help in producing this January cover.
On what basis do you select topics for a first encyclopedia? How do you explain them to young readers or listeners of about three to seven years? You would want what is offered to link with their experience and lead them beyond it in an interesting way. Your World does well on these criteria setting out information in clear, bold text complemented by large, colourful illustrations organised under ten topics. These begin with huge concepts – The Universe, The World Around Us and Prehistoric Life then move to Plant Life, Birds and Mammals, and Your Body. The final topics are about the social and scientific world – People and Places, Transport, and How Things Work. I like the speculative tone when, for example, dinosaur extinction is covered. It is never too soon to understand that knowledge is not fixed but changes as we learn more.
The clear index helps secure a young reader’s use of alphabetic knowledge as they scan through to find a particular subject. Some of the suggested activities, for example making early maps of a town and a bedroom to scale, will aid concept development while others – making sand and galaxy pictures – are for entertainment. Perhaps simple maps of some of the countries referred to would have been helpful. In short, this is an exciting and beautifully produced book which a young child will enjoy with some mediation.