I was introduced to Mitsumasa Anno some years ago by MommaofMany who was appalled - appalled, I say - to find that I was not familiar with his work. I have obviously learned better since then, and am now the happy owner of Anno's Counting Book (part of my preschool curric, more on that later!), Anno's USA, Anno's Italy. Anno's Magic Seeds, and Anno's Medieval World, besides China. While the "geography" or country books are my favorites, I think Anno's China is fast becoming my new favorite, and I will tell you why.
First, I will say that I was almost disappointed when I pulled this book out of the envelope, because although it was a hardcover with crisp new dust jacket, it seemed to me that everything seemed a bit fuzzy, like when my home printer needs to be aligned. China did not look the same as the other books I owned. And I was surprised, because I actually own an abundance of publications by Beautiful Feet Books and have never felt their quality to be lacking before. Then I remembered that the illustrations were SUPPOSED to be watercolors, which OF COURSE have a fuzzy, ethereal quality to them, by virtue of the media. Which made me wonder why Anno's other books, by other publishers look like they were illustrated in children's markers. I am not here to run anyone else down, all the books are lovely, but - this one by BF books may be a more accurate representation of the artist's original intentions.
But enough about that, here's the real reason why I love this book so much, are your ready for this? It has an index or appendix explaining what you're seeing in each scene! I know, right? But maybe you're not familiar with Anno's books, and if so, let me explain.
Anno's country books are wordless picture books, wherein Anno (always dressed in blue, with a pointy cap) journeys across a geographic area such as the Italy or the United States, and sometimes across time. There's an amazing amount of detail, but sometimes, unless you know what you're looking at, you don't know what you're seeing.
When I first pulled this book out of my mailbox, I thought, let me sit down an look at it real quick. Oh boy. You'd think I would have known better, right? There is no "quick look" with Anno's books. As soon as I opened it, I was drawn in- the beginning scenes were so calm and peaceful and I recognized men fishing with cormorants, like we'd learned about in Ping! But soon I began to feel a little frustrated. I could recognize that the author was taking us up river, but I wondered if this was a famous village I was supposed to recognize? What were those people doing? What did *that* mean? I simply did not know enough about Chinese culture and traditions to appreciate all that this book contained.
*As aforementioned, I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I have received no other compensation. Links to Amazon are not affiliate links, I receive no monies for recommending good books to y'all, I just like to see people reading. ;)