The book People,written and illustrated by Peter Spier, is perfect for the parent or teacher who is unsure of how to approach the broad, sometimes sensitive, topic of diversity and tolerance. In about 40 pages, the text and illustrations work together to explore the different types of people in the world, beginning with simple characteristics (different physical appearances and types of pets) and ending with more complex concepts (different religious beliefs and native languages) A series of two or three simple sentences accompanies the snapshot illustrations on each page, summarizing the concept in a nutshell. This helps the children to draw strong connections between the differences that are being portrayed by the illustrations. Written in the first person plural, the reader is included to join the journey across the world concluding that while we are all different in a variety of ways, our diversity is what makes our world such a wonderful, exciting place to live in!

The format of the book definitely draws the reader in. First of all, the book is relatively large, though pretty thin, which makes it attractive to children because it stands out but doesn’t intimidate them. The cover is very colorful and looks exciting because of the mass amount of a variety of people. The end papers are very appealing because they consist of illustrations that cover an entire span of 2 pages and are images of space. The front endpapers show a close-up part of earth viewed from space and the endpapers at the back of the book shows a more zoomed-out view of earth from space. The endpapers give the reader the feel of traveling and excitement. Spier also takes advantage of the title page, with an illustration that spans an entire 2 pages and shows what looks like Adam and Eve walking through the garden of Eden. 

Spier does a great job of creating synergy of illustration and text in this book. The images and text relate to each other very well. Every bit of text has an illustration to show examples, and this is a recurring visual theme: showing a lot of examples. The illustrations enhance the text because they show many examples of the different aspects of people. This is great for children because it exposes them to these differences and shows them more variety among people than they could probably ever imagine. They are not only told about but shown the differences among people, including what different eyes look like, what different ways of dressing look like, and what different homes look like. In this informational book, the illustrations seem quite accurate and very clear. The illustrations help to educate children not only because of their accuracy in showing what people around the world look like but also because each individual image is labeled, telling what the image depicts and what country that which is in this particular image comes from.

The illustrations of the book offer the reader new experiences by exposing them to images of different kinds of people and of aspects of our world associated with people. The illustrations also reflect on pre-existing experiences of the reader by showing familiar images from our country and the cultures that many from our country are likely part of. Thus the reader can see where they fit into the world but also see that they are only one small aspect of humanity as a whole. 


2 responses »

  1. Excellent posting, Katie. One of the "secrets" Spier has shared can be found on the front cover. Look for the Japanese couple in the lower left corner. There is a white space behind her back. This was from a change made from the original art which included a baby on her back (papoose-style). Japanese reviewers were highly offended. Why? The couple is wearing their wedding clothes! Thus the baby was removed and white space remains.

  2. Thanks for featuring People! I was in a kindergarten classroom one day when the teacher used this book in one of her lessons. She read this book to the class and then did an activity with them where they created their own 'illustrations.' She had them create collages of their faces by giving them a piece of construction paper in the shape of a circle. Then she provided purple, yellow, and orange triangles and had students glue on two purple triangles if they had green eyes, two yellow triangles if they had blue eyes, etc. They created their own representation of their face with additional parts of the face in this way. It really seemed to reach students and help them to understand the concept of embracing diversity. Thanks!

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