Friday, May 4, 2012

Around the World with Mouk

Around the World with Mouk
Marc Boutavant
Chronicle, 2009
$17.99, Hardcover
March 26th, 2012

Genre: Humor, Interactive, Nonfiction—Travel
Age: 7+
Description: Mouk the bear is going traveling! He meets up with his friends, Popo and Chavapa, to tell them of his around the world trip and promises to write to them. The story then follows Mouk as he travels through 11 different countries—Finland, Greece, Libya, West Africa, Madagascar, India, China, Australia, Japan, Peru, New York, and then home (which we’ll assume is France since this book is a French import).
Opinion: This is a unique book—it is part fantasy (talking animals), part nonfiction (a travel guide), part search and find, part sticker adventure book, and totally humorous. This is a French import I found and ordered for my library—not knowing about the sticker part—because I thought my tweens and teens would go crazy for Mouk and his cute world (and they have). The book itself is a large oversized volume. The opening endpapers show Mouk getting ready to travel while the back endpapers show him arriving home. The rest of the book is made up of huge, jam packed double page spreads, each devoted to one country Mouk visits. The pages are made of super glossy material so the stickers can stick to the pages. All of Mouk’s travels follow the same format—you first read a letter/postcard he writes back home to his friends telling about his visit to the country and then you get to investigate the full color pictures of various animals doing things in that country. As you read the speech balloons and other information presented among the scene you’ll discover there are a number of I Spy or search and find elements to the double page spreads. For example in one scene, a girl has lost her shoe and if you look closely you can find where it is lost. There are also continuations from country to country as well. For example, when a chipmunk in Madagascar sends a coconut boat out to sea Mouk later finds the coconut boat on the beach shore while he’s in Australia. Many common words for each country’s language are used and explained so readers can learn things (such as hello, thank you, etc.) Many of the animals that are drawn are culturally specific to their country (like lemurs in Madagascar, the sacred cow in India, tanuki (raccoons) in Japan). Lots of cultural foods are mentioned—a character might say something about liking this food and use its proper name and another character will clarify in his speech what the food is in English so readers keep learning about the cultures. The stickers included are 50 of those plastic reusable stickers (like the kind that came in the Colorform toys of the 1980s/1990s) and are in a common double page sheet in the middle of the book. The stickers all feature things specific to the countries and are labeled and grouped together by country on the page. I’m not an animal expert but my cataloger is an amateur expert who also works part-time at a docent at our Henry Doorly Zoo sees many nonfiction books for children get animal facts wrong which makes her mad and she actually, for a cartoon drawn book, was really impressed with the pictures and the information about the native animals presented here.

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