Thursday, June 01, 2006

Review: Come Out and Play

Come Out and Play written and illustrated by Diane Law. North-South,
2006 (978-0-7358-2060-9) $9.95

To a text that's merely the numbers from 1 to 10 in English, Spanish, German, French and Chinese, one boy starts a line of hand-holding children, finding other kids one by one from all around the world. From Alaska to the desert the line travels, picking up kids from their smiling parents, with interesting items to count on each page. In the final scene, all ten of the children play ball in a sunny field together. (One can only pity the poor fur-clad Inuit child.)

There's something uncomfortably reminscent of Disney's "It's a Small World" ride about this book, in the way the non-Western children and their families are all dressed in uber ethnic garb. (A French girl, of course, wears a baret.) Unfortunately, the clothing and scenery are the only clues to indicate where each child is from, and oddly, there isn't any particular relationship between the languages given and the children's nationalities. (Where is a Chinese-speaking child?) A better organized and more informative book is Can You Count Ten Toes? Nonetheless, the very simplicity of this book has an appeal, as does the ever-growing line of happy children. The brightly colored, collage-style illustrations make them look a bit like paper-dolls and has me longing to pick them up and play with them. (2-6)