I work dangerously close to my favorite bookstore in town, Left Bank Books. It’s actually perfect because books are really our go-to gifts. When the girls were tiny we decided to host our own no-gift parties (and eleven years later I have zero regrets on this), and many of the parties they are invited to ask for no gifts as well. When this isn’t the case we give one of two things – good quality construction paper + scotch tape, or a hardback book. We used to stock up on IKEA’s construction paper when we drove through Atlanta every November because it has great colors and comes in various sizes in a pack for around $4. And there’s nothing that feels quite so luxurious (to a kid) than a big fat roll or two of scotch tape that is all their own. When IKEA opens here this fall, we’ll probably restock our gift cabinet with more paper, but until then, we’ve been sticking with kiddie lit for our special occasions.
Left Bank Books has a wonderfully curated children’s section, and I always know I can pop in for five minutes and find just what I’m looking for. Plus they have adorable gift wrap. For gifts, I try to choose books that are very newly released to increase the odds that the recipient doesn’t already have a copy on the shelf. And then I put a gift receipt inside, because even if they do, they can easily swap their new book out for something else.
F had a birthday party on Friday night, and so I picked up a copy of B.J Novak’s The Book With No Pictures because it’s always a hit. It’s been out for awhile so I knew it was a bit of a risk, but luckily the birthday girl didn’t have a copy yet. The girls gathered tightly around her while she opened up giant boxes of talking Elsa dolls and glittery art kits, and I was a little worried about the impact of the simple white book cover – you know – the one with no pictures. I shouldn’t have worried. The wrapping paper was torn off and all the girls squealed, jumping up and down and reciting parts of the book they had memorized. They have a copy in their school library, and it’s a favorite of the kindergarten crowd. F looked pleased as punch. It was awesome.
That was a rather wordy intro to explain why I was in the bookstore over lunch last week, and why I told myself I’d get just one gift book and instead I walked out of the store with three. Another one I bought that day was At the Same Moment, Around the World by Clotilde Perrin.
But how could I not buy it? It’s a tall, slender book with incredible illustrations. It reminds me a lot of Peter Sis’ Madlenka books, in illustration style and theme as well. F’s class theme is “Explorers”, and they’ve been traveling around the world this year. F simply loves Geography – if she tells us about something interesting at school that day, she always relates it to her expanding knowledge of world places. (A visit from pet chinchillas last week was a highlight – don’t you know Mom, they come from the Andes Mountains, in South America?)
The book also ties into the idea of time and time zones – and there’s a lot of additional information about that at the end of the book. F’s been studying time at school, and is quite good at being the timekeeper – when it suits her to nag us about being late. (It doesn’t work the other way around!) I love how varied the events are at this one particular moment in twenty-four different parts of the earth. How interesting it is to think of this interconnection across seasons and climates and oceans and borders. We all eat and sleep and exercise and connect with others in meaningful ways.
At the end of the book there is a fold out map of the world. You can trace each person to their home, and F likes to quiz herself on the activities each person was doing earlier in the book.
This book is perfect for 4-8 year olds, and it’s a great book to accompany the study of world geography and telling time.
Find this title at your favorite local independent bookstore. Happy reading!