Saturday, November 26, 2016

Child's Geography of the World

A Child's Geography of the World. V.M. Hillyer. 1929/1951. 472 pages.

First sentence: When I was a boy, my nurse used to take me to the railroad station to see the trains.

Premise/plot: A Child's Geography of the World was first published in 1929. The edition I found was revised and published in 1951. The tone is casual conversation. There are a few black and white illustrations throughout the book. The book is full of information, but what kind?

The truth is some information stays the same no matter the decade. (For example the location of the The Great Lakes, the Empire State Building, the Leaning Tower of Pisa). But plenty of things have changed and changed dramatically! Nations have passed away, governments have been toppled, revolutions have taken place. Also the United States has more than 48 states! Mount Everest has been climbed. Man has gone to the moon and back.

The last war mentioned is World War 2. Communists are mentioned, or perhaps I should say warned against!

Race is definitely an issue if you're reading this with children. (God created black men at night and many black people in Africa eat each other. The narrator makes an offhandedly comment that you will likely never see a real live Indian because there are few left. The narrator later makes an aside that the U.S. does it's best to keep out the Chinese.) I would say adults can throw away the bad and keep the good and have the discernment needed to tell the difference between the two. I would not recommend young children read this on their own for several reasons. One being that unless this text has been updated and revised recently, you'd have more misinformation than correct information.

My thoughts: I find vintage books entertaining. I do. Rare, long out-of-print books call to me. It's a way to capture a glimpse of the past, for better or worse. Not a historical writer's idea of the past. Good Morning, Miss Dove is one of my favorite, favorite books--and movies. This book would have been published at exactly the right time for Miss Dove to use!

The information is dated, true, I won't lie, but it is also a strong narrative. If there weren't problematic sections, I could easily call it charming.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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