Thursday, August 30

How Big is the World?

by Britta Techentrup
Boxer Books UK / Sterling US 2007

Mole asks his papa "How big is the world?"
Papa replies "Why don't you go see?"

And out into the world little Mole goes. Mole asks all the creatures he encounters and they, in turn, answer according to their experience. Spider says the world extends to the end of his web, Mouse says it's to the end of his field, House says to the edge of the sea, and then when Mole gets to the sea he comes to a whale who takes him for a tour of the world, finally exclaiming that he doesn't really think the world has an end. Having seen all he can Mole decides he should probably return home.

"So how big is the world?" asks Papa.
"As big as you want it to be," says Mole.

I walked into this book a little cautious because the art feels a little muddled to me and because it was published by Sterling. I haven't seen much come out of Sterling that I've liked so I was a little surprised to not be totally put off by what I read. In fact, I sorta like this intrepid little Mole going out and finding answers for themselves.

Yes, exactly! Parents, adults, stop feeding kids answers and tell them to go explore the world for themselves. No, don't send your four-year-olds out on the backs of whales, but show them how and where (the library, the park, the basement, wherever) to find answers for themselves so that they learn from the start that the journey is part of the answer.

I'm still going to hold that this book could have been better illustrated -- everything felt a little stiff, stagy, a little block-y -- so definitely a library read.

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