Sources: Global Voices: Picture Books from Around the World

Sources: Global Voices: Picture Books from Around the World

Global Voices: Picture Books from Around the World. By Susan Stan. Chicago: ALA Editions, 2014. 240 p. Paper $50 (ISBN: 978-0-8389-1183-9).

"What children get from an international picture book that they don't get from an American picture book," says Susan Stan, "is something that they can't see and probably can't articulate: a shift in perspective that can range from unnoticeable to stimulating to disorienting" (2). All of these reactions, her book goes on to argue, are valuable to the development of a young reader and global citizen.

Divided into two sections, Global Voices is both a critical examination and an annotated bibliography. In Part I, Stan presents a general history of picture book publishing around the world, as well as information about translation and acquisition in the American market. She acknowledges the limitations of her project: the book's bibliographies, divided by continent, in some cases heavily represent English-speaking creators of books about those parts of the world, rather than books originally from these areas. The reasons for this vary: sometimes the region itself does not have a robust children's publishing industry; in other cases, books published in certain countries tend not to be acquired by American editors, because they are thought to be too culturally specific to be relevant or interesting to American readers. This, she argues, is unfortunate, as it keeps many worthy books from reaching more readers, and is a disservice to today's children, who are growing up in an increasingly global world: "Twenty-first century American citizens must get used to meeting the rest of the world halfway by being exposed to other cultures and developing a tolerance for multiple points of view. There is no better group to start with than the very young" (5).

Part II takes an alphabetical trip around the world, with chapters highlighting Africa and the Middle East, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, Canada, Europe, and finally Latin America and the Caribbean. Within these chapters, books from or about these regions are arranged by country. Not every nation is represented, but the representation is broader than one might expect. Interstitials appear in each chapter and profile illustrators and writers, from the well-known (such as Mem Fox and Mitsumasa Anno) to the up-and-coming (Isol). With its dual focus on an impressive list of titles and analysis of artistic style and themes, Global Voices is both a useful reader's advisory tool and a fine text for an undergraduate survey course on picture books.—Sarah Hannah Gómez, Library Services Specialist, Castilleja School, Palo Alto, California


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