28 Feb 2014
Book Review: It's About Time, by Pascale Estellon
Author: Pascale Estellon
Publisher: Owl Kids
Book Source: review copy from publisher
I've published 10 science books for kids since 2012. Nine were "fact" books, dealing with straightforward, concrete information. The tenth is on the scientific method - a way of thinking - and my experience on that project showed me how much harder it is to write effectively about something so insubstantial and abstract.
Is there anything more abstract than time, the subject of Pascale Estellon's latest book?
Starting with one second and working up to one century, Estellon's done a marvellous job of taking the insubstantial and making it concrete. She relates each measure of time to a specific activity young children have already experienced, giving them a solid frame of reference. One second, for example, is the amount of time it takes to turn the page of the book; one hour is how long it takes to mix and bake a pound cake. The recipe for the cake is included, encouraging kids to tackle time in an interactive, hands-on way.
The book also includes questions, activities, and a clock kids can make and use while learning how to tell time. The design is extremely visual - Estellon's illustrations don't just add colour and life to the page, they are used to explain and help kids picture difficult concepts.
The only concept in the book I felt wasn't clearly explained is the Monday's Child rhyme included in the days of the week section - the heading asks kids "What day of the week are you?" without explaining that the rhyme relates to birth day. Unless kids are reading with an adult who's familiar with this rhyme and can explain, they may find this a bit confusing.
Altogether, however, It's About Time is cheerful, appealing, and very effective, and I heartily recommend it.
Review by L. E. Carmichael