Review also includes:
Get Dressed!, 978-1840893915
These books aim to encourage adults and children to talk together about everyday activities like dressing, washing, eating and sleeping. Each illustration takes us to a particular place and shows a distinctive cultural context, suggesting what is different and what is universal about each activity. In Washing! children learn that everyone washes, but some people wash in rivers, some in communal showers and others in natural hot springs. Get Dressed! also takes us around the world, in this case to see what people wear in different countries and regions. Tidy Up! includes pictures of a young boy putting rubbish in a bin in Moscow, children clearing road-side litter in Queensland and boys in Thailand sweeping temple grounds. My concern is that constant changes of situation and of environment risk either overwhelming young learners or, at best, giving them a superficial impression of how other people live. Such geographical and cultural diversity may not be readily managed even by an adult’s skilled and sensitive discussion. On the whole, the very young cope best when they are eased gradually into one single new situation. This is why ‘Day in the Life of…’ approaches are so well liked.
And why, I wonder, do these books give such a cosy view? Behind the photographs are some troubling issues and questions. The books never make such concerns explicit: Eating does not even hint at the problems of a hungry world and in Bedtime! there is a picture of a young child in Kuqa, China asleep in a carpet shop; one wonders what the story might be here but we just get the falsely jolly annotation ‘Sleepyheads can sleep almost anywhere’.
Teachers might find the photographs useful in some lessons, but the writing beneath them adds little to our understanding. (There are, to be fair, helpful ‘More about the Pictures’ pages in each book.) The rhyming text often seems contrived and sometimes states the obvious without illuminating the photograph it aims to support.