Title of the work
Country of the First Edition
Country/countries of popularity
First Edition Details
Isabel Otter, Wonders of the World. An Interactive Tour of Marvels and Monuments, London: Caterpillar Books (an imprint of the Little Tiger Group), 2018, 18 pp.
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Author of the Entry:
Sonya Nevin, University of Roehampton, firstname.lastname@example.org
Peer-reviewer of the Entry:
Susan Deacy, University of Roehampton, email@example.com
Lisa Maurice, Bar-Ilan University, firstname.lastname@example.org
Margaux Carpentier (Illustrator)
Margaux Carpentier is a painter and illustrator based in London, UK. She has created street-art, murals, and sculpture as well as illustrations for books.
Bio prepared by Sonya Nevin, University of Roehampton, email@example.com
Isabel Otter (Author)
Isabel Otter is a children's book editor and writer. After a childhood in Herefordshire, UK she now lives and works in London. Many of her works feature an interactive element, such as My First Lift and Reveal: Farm (Little Tiger Kids, 2018) and My First Wild Activity Book (Caterpillar Books, 2017). Also The Garden of Hope (Caterpillar Books, 2018) which tackles family bereavement for 3-8 year olds, "transforms an overgrown and neglected garden into a place of beauty, love… and ultimately hope."
Bio prepered by Sonya Nevin, University of Roehampton, firstname.lastname@example.org
Wonders of the World is a highly illustrated and well-designed lift-the-flap publication. The book is divided into two main parts. The first presents the seven wonders of the ancient world, the second the wonders of what is referred to as the 'modern world', although some of these entries were also built in antiquity. A double-page at the end presents seven natural wonders. Each wonder has a page of its own with one or two flaps and information distributed across an average of five discreet areas. The main information panel includes information such as the date of construction, who commissioned it, and its location and function. Secondary text areas pick out various points of further cultural interest. There is no blank space on the page; all is brightly coloured, from the backgrounds to the buildings and statues depicted. The illustrations are rendered in a realistic cartoon style and the tone of the text is matter-of-fact yet pleasantly enthusiastic.
A double-page Introduction depicts a map of world with all fourteen wonders marked on it. They are classified by colour so it is clear which group they belong to. A talking llama explains that the wonders are grouped into sevens because seven is a number that has often been regarded as 'lucky or significant.' An introduction to the Ancient Wonders explains that the list was compiled by Antipater of Sidon and invites the reader to consider which one they expect to like the most. The Modern Wonders introduction explains that the list was drawn up by public vote in the year 2000.
Great Pyramid of Giza. The main flap on this wonder reveals the complex passages inside the pyramid. A second flap allows the reader to look inside a mummy's sarcophagus. There is further information on Egyptian gods and hieroglyphics.
Temple of Artemis. This page is focused upon a large, colourful illustration of the temple with a close-up of the statue of Artemis before it. A small lift-the-flap booklet reveals and explains the several stages of destruction that the temple went through. An additional area depicts a stall selling replicas of the temple and statue, noting how funny it is to think that tourists then liked to buy mementos just like 'nowadays!'
Colossus of Rhodes. A large orange image of the statue before a golden sea dominates the page and beside it is a smaller image of the Statue of Liberty, with which the Colossus is compared. The flap introduces Helios, god of the Sun, with images of him starting his chariot race at dawn and finishing at dusk.
Mausoleum of Halicarnassus. This wonder is represented by a large image of the mausoleum with King Mausolus looking up at it. One flap reveals the large quadriga statue on the roof, while a second shows detail from the mausoleum's amazonomachy frieze. Further information explains the colourful trousers worn by some of the people in the illustrations and informs the young reader that other stately tombs began to be known as 'mausoleums' after this one.
Statue of Zeus. Resplendent in gold with a ginger beard, this colourful statue of Zeus is shown properly seated with two humans standing before it and providing scale. An information box provides further detail about who Zeus is. A symmetrical interpretation of the pedimental sculptures from the temple of Zeus sits at the bottom of the page. The flap has several pages, introducing the Olympic Games and describing some of the events, the importance of the laurel wreath and Olympic torch, and explaining that women could compete at the games held in honour of Hera.
Hanging Gardens of Babylon. King Nebuchadnezzar stands before a great pyramid of gardens hugging some flowers and looking delighted. A flap lifts some of the plants and reveals the queen of Babylon reclining inside. Further information describes the use of screw-pumps to provide irrigation and the popularity of beards in Babylonian culture. A cleverly designed rotatable disc reveals a range of plants that might have been grown in the gardens.
Lighthouse of Alexandria. The reverse of the rotatable disc shows how the lighthouse emitted the sun's light by day and fire-light by night. The main image shows the lighthouse standing tall over a dusky sea. The flap reveals fallen statuary and describes the fall of the lighthouse and ongoing ideas about its reconstruction. A further information box identifies Poseidon and Triton in the statuary. Two ancient cons are depicted demonstrating what an important landmark the lighthouse was and how it is possible to know something of how it looked.
Taj Mahal. The first of the modern wonders is picked out in white with pinks and turquoises. Elephants carry precious woods for its construction. Half the page depicts the pool which sits before the mausoleum and opens as a double information flap.
Great Wall of China. The wall zig-zags across the page through mountains which help to express a sense of its scale. Beside the wall illustration are the busts of four of the emperors who oversaw its construction. A flap on the wall can be lifted to reveal a surging crowd of tourists.
Machu Picchu is depicted from above, nestled in the mountains. An Inca-design covered flap hides a picture of someone in a room bathed in light at a solstice.
Petra. The orange of The Great Treasury blends with the orange of the rocks roundabout. A flap above can be lifted to reveal the cosy interior of a cave home. A camel-rider is depicted along with examples of items that were traded by the Nabataeans and those who passed through their lands: spices, beads, obsidian, lapis lazuli, and turquoise.
Christ the Redeemer. The statue is depicted looking down on an abstract depiction of the city below and the sea in the distance. The Lapa Steps provide a colourful contrast in the corner and they can be lifted to reveal information about the stairs as an example of Brazilian street art.
The Colosseum. This wonder glows out of a pinky-red background. The flap lifts a section of wall to reveal a caged lion within the arena. A second flap is decorated like a modern theatre poster advertising a night at the Colosseum and provides further information underneath.
Chichen Itza. The final wonder is shown lit by moonlight. A large flap below the pyramid reveals four information sections describing Mayan ballgames, worship in sacred pools, Mayan statuary, and the Jaguar Throne.
The final double page depicts seven natural wonders: Paricutin Volcano, Perito Moreno Glacier, Cano Cristales, Victoria Falls, Grand Canyon, Aurora, Great Barrier Reef. When the page opens, a large pop-up volcano erupts in the middle of the pages.
This is a delightful book which is hugely fun to go through and which nonetheless communicates a great deal of information about history, culture, and the natural world in an accessible way. While pre-existing categories pre-determined what wonders would fill the book, the subjects chosen to expand upon are varied (science, dress, religion, trade etc.), giving young readers a wide variety of information and appealing to a variety of interests. The decision to have modern wonders alongside the ancient list broadens the geographical reach of the work and helps to bridge the gap between the reader and the ancient past. This bridging is extended within the information provided as well, with some similarities picked out explicitly, such as tourism and mementos, the ancient Colossus statue's inspiration in the making of the Statue of Liberty, and the destruction of the lighthouse of Alexandria in the medieval period. The decision to include some natural wonders was thoughtful. It broadens the appeal of the book amongst young readers of varied interests and provides a welcome implication that the natural world should be appreciated as well as the human-made.
The colourful nature of the book and its inventive use of flaps and rotating picture wheels ensure that the book is enjoyable and engaging to explore for a young reader. The text is too small for new readers to read, but children in that situation will enjoy looking at the images or reading with an adult; more capable readers are likely to find that the level of information ensures that the book remains stimulating even though it has the sort of visual appeal sometimes associated with younger readers. The tremendous use of colour also means that the ancient world is depicted as a vibrant and energising place containing colourful artworks and buildings and people with a variety of skin-tones. Ancient material culture is included in a careful way, so that items such as ancient coins and statues help to explain how historians can find out about the ancient past. Men and women both feature in the book and both are depicted pursuing a variety of activities.