Even within the smaller social units like a family there are differences and similarities in the way each individual makes decisions about what they eat and wear, how they spend their free time or what work they are required to do on any given day. As groups grow to include classroom, work places, local communities, states and countries the differences expand but commonalities remain. We are one world family on this planet called Earth.
The more we understand about members of this one world family, the more our compassion will grow. This Is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from around the World (Chronicle Books, May 2, 2017) written and illustrated by Matt Lamothe presents a typical day for each of these children. How do their days contrast with your day? What things are alike?
My name is
This is how the book begins. We are introduced to the seven children learning their formal names and nicknames. They also tell us their ages; ranging from seven to eleven years old. This information appears beneath the name of their countries, Italy, Japan, Uganda, Russia, Peru, India and Iran.
In discovering where they live three reside in apartment buildings and four others dwell in individual homes. The child in Italy has a vineyard in his backyard. The home in Peru was built by the child's father located in a village in the Amazon rainforest. The children then acquaint us with the members of their respective families.
Some of them can decide what to wear to school each day, others wear uniforms. Many readers would be more than willing to have their breakfasts for dinner. Four of the children walk to school but the paths they follow vary; some pass through large cities, another a local community and one winds through eucalyptus and banana trees. Of their seven teachers only one is a male.
The child in Japan wears white indoor slippers in her classroom. The child in Peru shares his classroom with two grades and their day ends at one o'clock. Each of them writes their names differently using a different alphabet except for three who use the Latin alphabet.
Their school lunches are displayed. Whenever they get to play we see how much they enjoy the out-of-doors even though they are engaged in no two similar activities. This holds true for how they contribute to the family chores. What will readers take away about when and with whom the children eat? As the evening progresses, bedtime follows. The final line unites them and us.
The technique employed by Matt Lamothe for presenting this information generates a cadence and a thread tying each section together. It creates equality as it supplies a means for discovery. Many of them start with the same words. Each paragraph is as if the child is speaking directly to the reader; a conversation across the miles. Here are two sample paragraphs.
We do many activities
outside the classroom,
like visit parks and
forests, go to museums
in other cities, and put
on a musical at the
end of the year. We
have school from eight
o'clock to four o'clock.
My brother, mom, housemaid,
and I usually eat dinner
around ten o'clock at night at
our big wooden table. We have
matoke with g-nut sauce,
and milk to drink.
Rendered digitally the illustrations are fully animated and replete with details. From the matching dust jacket and book case to each individual picture, readers will be fascinated with the design and layout. The matte-finished paper showcases the full color visuals. From the front where we see children and people who cross the journeys of their daily lives to the left, the back, where each country is named with the children's names, we find ourselves stopping to enjoy the elements in each image.
On the opening and closing endpapers is a map of the world using a limited color palette. Portraits of the children's faces are within circles with lines drawn to their country on the map, including the author. The names, city and country are shown. The verso and title pages are a graphic mix of circles and blocks of four.
This theme of four is followed throughout the title. Sometimes a page will be divided into four or into three with one of the children's examples occupying two of the places, either vertically or horizontally. For variety and emphasis Matt expands his illustrations to include an entire page opposite two images on a single page. The final picture spans two pages...as it should.
One of my many favorite illustrations from my favorite series, This is how I go to school, is for the country of Japan. This little nine-year-old girl, Kei, walks down a street filled with homes, past city shops and apartment buildings to be assisted by a crossing guard. The intricate details are fascinating revealing architecture, street and city planning and life styles. Notice all the writing.
This book, This Is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from around the World, written and illustrated by Matt Lamothe is a bridge to cultural understanding. If you, like me, believe our future is in the hands of our children, make sure as many of them as possible read this book. Use it repeatedly throughout the year for a variety of study. It is an outstanding book in every respect. At the close of the book, Matt Lamothe provides full color photographs of the real families who participated in the making of this book. He also has a glossary and an author's note.
To learn more about Matt Lamothe please visit his website by following the link attached to his name. Matt is one of three people at a design company ALSO. The book is highlighted there with several interior illustrations. There is a This Is How We Do It Instagram account. On the Chronicle Books Blog the book is featured. Enjoy the book trailer.
Update: On August 3, 2017 author, reviewer and blogger Julie Danielson reviewed Matt Lamothe and will follow with artwork the next week at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy hosted by educator Alyson Beecher to view the other titles selected by bloggers participating in the 2017 Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge.