________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 18 . . . . January 15, 2016


Awesome is Everywhere.

Neil Pasricha.
Toronto, ON: Penguin Canada, 2015.
32 pp., hardcover, $21.99.
ISBN 978-0-670-06933-0.

Subject Headings:
Earth (Planet)-Juvenile literature.
Earth (Planet)-Pictorial works-Juvenile literature.
Meditation-Juvenile literature.

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 4-6.

Review by Aileen Wortley.

* /4



Are you ready? Tap the earth... Good job! Tap it again... We're getting closer. We're going in. One more time? Wow! The waves are beating the sandy shore. Tilt the book away from you and give it a shake. Feel the hot sunbeams on your skin. Hear the wind whispering through the tall palm trees in the distance. Take a deep breath and sniff the warm, wet, salty air. Try blowing on the waves... just a little bit...

The intention of Awesome is Everywhere is to encourage children to use their imagination in appreciating the beauty of the world we live in through the experience of being transported into the scenic panoramas depicted. The author was inspired to produce this latest "Awesome" title to teach his son the "power of attitude, awareness and authenticity" and indirectly to "learn the art of meditation, mindfulness, appreciation and environmentalism."

      Dramatic double-page spreads zoom the reader through scenes of the earth taken from outer space, to sandy beaches, to the depths of the sea or to the minutiae of sand grains and pebbles. They are certainly resplendent illustrations, a "hyper-realistic composite of over 30 images stitched together by Discovery Channel animation studios using photos from NASA, electron-microscope wielding scientists and hired photographers around the world."

      The work is described as an interactive journey and emphasis is placed on the children's involvement as they are asked to tap various pages, tilt and shake the book, take big breaths, etc. It is a visually beautiful book well laid out with clear well-spaced large text.

      Due to the success of Pasricha's 'Book of Awesome' series', this picture book will undoubtedly receive much media attention. It is hard to argue with the intent of the title and the concept of appreciating both big and small marvels of this earth. However, as a picture book aimed at children aged 4-6, it does not work. There are limits to the ideas and concepts preschoolers can absorb, and much of this book does not relate to anything within their sphere of experience that will engage them in the story. It is a self-conscious, rather sophisticated creation devised with a purpose that no doubt will find acclaim from adults but not from the children for which it is intended.

      Neil Pasricha has described the title as "the first ever fully interactive hyper-photorealistic children's book in the world." This focus on the "interactive" nature of this book both raises expectations and undervalues the genre of picture books in general which are, and have always been, innately 'interactive' in that they provoke imagination, discussion and shared enjoyment of both text and illustration. At the same time, the term 'interactive' in today's world implies sophisticated technology resulting in immediate gratification through audio or visual animation. The book does not meet the expectation of either group as it neither offers a technological experience nor an imaginative one as the text prescribes each action and what the reader should feel each step of the way.

      In short, Awesome is Everywhere is a well-intentioned book that fails as a work of literature but will likely be in demand by parents and teachers.

Not Recommended.

Aileen Wortley is a retired librarian living in Toronto, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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ISSN 1201-9364
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