About the Holiday
In 1989 the Governing Council of the United Nations Development Program established this date as a time to focus on urgent population and humanitarian issues. Each year revolves around a different theme. This year the theme is “Investing in teenage girls.” Education, health, and safety issues for girls around the world is an emerging issue that demands serious attention.
P is for Passport: A World Alphabet
Written by Devin Scillian | Illustrated by nationally acclaimed artists
One of the best ways to learn about the world’s diverse population is to travel—either in person or through a great book. P is for Passport is your own personal guide to the myriad people, landmarks, animals, natural resources, modes of transportation, and other things that make up our world. Each letter of the alphabet introduces readers to a concept that begins with that letter (A for animals, B for breads, etc.). A short definition of the place, event, object, or idea is given on one page, and the facing page contains a poem that cleverly and lyrically describes it with examples from around the globe.
After getting the right Currency with the letter C and filling K’s Knapsack, armchair travelers will traverse the world’s varied terrain. E takes them to the “epic elevation” of “mighty Mount Everest”; for the letter I they will sail to the Emerald Isle of Ireland, the Isles of Greece, and the Isle of Skye as well as to chilly Greenland, warm Tahiti, and green Iceland; J will find them in the densest jungles; of course, “O is for Oceans that “roll and roar and sway”; and D is for deserts:
“We’re in Dakar and it’s dreadfully dry, whipped by the sand in the breeze. / Or it’s a day in Death Valley, dangerously hot at 120 degrees. / A dazzling sun dries out the Gobi, a harsh and punishing land. / The largest on earth is called the Sahara, nine million miles of sand….”
By now readers will be hungry, so B provides buttery buns, bagels, baguettes, biscuits, and more. Feel like something else? Then flip to G for Grain found in pasta, porridge, dumplings, ramen, couscous, wheat, and rice. While travelers eat they can peruse the languages at L:
“Polish is spoken in Poland. In Japan, it’s Japanese. / In Brazil they don’t speak Brazilian, but rather Portuguese. / L is the list of Languages, so many ways to speak. / Like English and Spanish, Italian and Hebrew, Arabic and Greek. / So pack a handy phrase book and learn a few things to say. / A friendly ‘Bonjour!’ or ‘Buenos dias!’ can go a very long way.”
Q is your Quest “…both large and small, from climbing Kilimanjaro to seeing Niagara Falls.” You’ll cross countries by R—Railway and “…rise right through the Rockies , or across the French Riviera, / or rumble across the Australian outback making your way to Canberra.” Along the way you’ll be entertained by M—Music from mandolins, marimbas, maracas, and many different musicians—and S for Sports, such as soccer, surfing, sailing, skiing, and so many more.
Lastly, T stands for Travel as “you see, each trip a traveler takes is a moment that you spend / getting to know a whole new world. And that world becomes your friend.” And from your travels you’ll remember P, the People:
“They laugh, they eat, they sing, and they dance. They work, they sleep, they play. / They smile when they’re happy, cry when they’re sad, and teach their children to pray. / We wear different clothes over different skin, but it’s always seemed to me / that with all of the things we have in common, how different can we really be?”
As today’s date also hosts the holiday International Town Criers Day, honoring those early “news reporters,” it’s appropriate that Devin Scillian is our featured author. Besides authoring this and other books, he is a television journalist. His childhood spent living in cities across the globe and his work make him a perfect traveling companion for P is for Passport and its introduction to the marvels of the world around us. Delivering the sights, sounds, aromas, play, and people of foreign lands through fascinating rhymes and facts is a wonderful way to get kids excited about travel and geography.
Twenty-four artists from around the United States and Canada lend their unique talents to depicting each letter. Beautiful two-page spreads burst with color and bold, up-close views of representatives for each letter-inspired text. Brilliant red and blue parrots share space with violet orchids, blue poison dart frogs, a coiled green snake, and a stealthily creeping jaguar in Karen Latham and Rebecca Latham’s painting for the letter J. Susan Guy’s soft watercolor of a frozen landscape cut only by a sleek train and its glowing headlamp transports readers to cold northern regions for the letter N. Volcanoes steam and spout while hot, golden lava burns a path through forestland in Ross Young’s vivid painting for the letter V.
Each illustration is equally compelling. Children and adults will want to linger over each page and will find P is for Passport just the beginning of their world exploration. The book would be a welcome home library addition for geography enthusiasts of all ages.
Ages 7 – 12
Sleeping Bear Press
Hardcover, 2003 ISBN 9781585361571 | ebook, 2013 ISBN 9781627533577
World Population Day Activity
All Aboard for Travel! Word Search
The best way to meet your fellow citizens of the world is to travel! Today’s word search is shaped like a train—one of the best ways to see the countryside. So hop on board and start exploring! Get your printable All Aboard for Travel! puzzle.