At the Same Moment Around the World by Clotilde Perrin is one of those special books that children will remember well into adulthood. I feel like I say this about many of the books I review here and I don't want you to think that I overuse this compliment. What you may not realize is that, as a children's bookseller, I see hundreds of new picture books published every year, and the majority of those books do not seem worth the paper they are printed on, let alone the cover price.
This may sound harsh, but I think that the ability to write a good picture book is an art that few people understand or possess so my standards for what constitutes a good picture book are quite high. When an author and illustrator can create a combined work that is exciting, interesting, thought provoking and lovely to look at, that is definitely something worthy of praise and attention.
And that is exactly what Perrin has done with At the Same Moment Around the World, a tall, slim book that takes readers eastward from the Greenwich meridian, from day to night, with each page portraying one of the (original) twenty four time zones. As I learned in the fascinating "About Time Zones," pages at the end of the book, right before the really cool four-panel fold out map of the world that lets you see all the children from all the time zones at the same time, when Sir Sandford Fleming, the fellow credited with the invention of time zones in 1884, he established twenty-four time zones.
Now that we have switched from Greenwich Mean Time to Coordinate Universal Time (UTC - and something else new I learned here) there are about 40 time zones that allow for better measurement and synchronization of time more accurately than ever before. This in turn allows for technology like GPS to tell you where you are at any given moment!
As technical as this all sounds, At the Same Moment Around the World is truly an engaging story of a day in the life of children all over the world, giving readers a glimpse into different countries and cultures, unified with the one thing we all share - as twenty-four hour day.
At the Same Moment Around the World begins at six o'clock in the morning in Dakar, Senegal, where Keita is helping his father count the fish caught during the night. A turn of the page takes us to Paris, France, where Benedict is drinking hot chocolate at seven o'clock in the morning. Sofia, Bulgaria, Baghdad, Iraq, Samarkand, Uzbekistan and Mount Everest are the next stops as we head toward lunch time. Perrin chooses out of the ordinary (for kid's books) places and people to feature in her book, which is magnificently illustrated, filled with details on every page and a color palette that changes gradually with the time of day and place on the map.
At the Same Moment Around the World travels onward through time and space, stopping in Hanoi, Vietnam where Khanh is trying to nap, to Japan, Australia, New Caledonia and a snowy Russia by dinnertime. Stops in Honolulu, Anchorage, San Francisco and Phoenix cover America quite nicely, while a visit to Lima, Peru at one o'clock in the morning finds baby Diego being born! Through the rain forests of Brazil, the chill of Greenland and back to Dakar, Senegal. The final illustration is the same as the first, but this time we see Chloe on a ship in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. It's five o'clock in the morning and she is tired from dancing all night!
At the Same Moment Around the World is such an amazing book that you should definitely get for your kids, picking up an extra copy since it also makes a memorable gift.
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