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A Parent/Child Read-Aloud Exploring Peru

Bibi & Babu in Peru - Bonnie Toews and John Christiansen

Volume Two of the picture book travels of Bibi and Babu introduces young readers to Peru, pairing a first-person travelogue with a dazzling array of photos that begin with Peru's archaeological relics and history and moves through the country, touring the modern city of Lima's museums and galleries and visiting Peru's countryside.


Several features set Bibi & Babu in Peru apart from the usual geography orientation for elementary-level picture book readers in grades 3-6; and the first is an unusual combination of travel diary, geography and historical facts tailored for an age range that typically receives only geography approaches tailored for reports and research.


This perspective succeeds in immersing kids in the sights, sounds, and flavors of Peru in a manner that research-oriented books couldn't capture, juxtaposing facts about the country with the authors' own first-person experiences: "As we walk around outside before entering the museum, we are fascinated with the flowers and colonial architecture of the building."


This is not to say that historical facts aren't an intrinsic part of the book: sidebars of information juxtaposed with museum holdings and discussions provide plenty of information on the country's evolution and past. But the real treat that sets this part from the ordinary geography approach lies in the personal touches in passages that provide a 'you are there' feel to the authors' travels: "Here, in the Santa Domingo Church, we are filled with awe. It is not just history wandering through these chambers, it is also the meeting place of so many worlds: sacred, pagan, mythical, spiritual, AND astronomical."


Maps and photos drive the tour as Bibi and Babu survey museums, take train and bus rides, arrive at small towns, and view the country's natural and human wonders.


It would be a shame to limit this picture book to young audiences alone: many an adult looking for an eye-catching and involving, simple introduction to Peru will find themselves attracted to the travelogue, making Bibi & Babu in Peru a special recommendation for read-aloud, educational and leisure reading purposes for all ages.