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*While You Are Sleeping: A Lift-the-Flap Book of Time Around the World* by Durga Bernhard
While You Are Sleeping: A Lift-the-Flap Book of Time Around the World
by Durga Bernhard
Ages 4-8 24 pages Charlesbridge February 2011 Hardcover    

While You Are Sleeping shows a single moment in time, as experienced by children across the globe.

The opening pages show a young girl in Alaska, reading with her mother before bed. A small inset on the page shows a map and a clock with the current time (the reader may be startled to note the very late bedtime - 10pm!).

A circular lift-the-flap pocket on the adjacent page shows us a child in another time zone going about their day, in this case a Nigerian girl getting dressed at nine o’clock in the morning. The next double-page spread follows the girl’s story, showing her carrying food to the market.

We successively visit Japan, Mexico, India, Thailand, Haiti, England, and Brazil, watching children immersed in daily activities ranging from walking home from school to picking fruit or milking goats. In the final pages, we revisit the Alaskan child to see her being tucked into bed by her mother.

An author’s note follows the book, describing the concept of time zones. The care and thought that has gone into creating this book shine through on every page. For instance, the clock in India shows the half hour rather than the hour, reflecting the fact that although India covers an east-west distance of about 1,200 miles, all of India follows a single time zone of its own (known as Indian Standard Time), corresponding to the center of the country. A nice detail for a picture book to capture!

The author depicts each culture accurately while wisely staying away from stereotypes about what different groups of people do. For instance, the American child happens to be Native American; the child milking goats happens to be English rather than from a less developed country.

While You Are Sleeping is a superbly imagined and executed book that can be used to teach geography, telling time and time zones, and about the many cultures that make up our world. The lush, striking illustrations alone would make this book a good buy, as each picture is a gorgeous work of art in itself.

The book has even inspired a beautiful song by the Hudson Valley-based music group Spiral Up Kids. The song, which features accomplished world musician Steve Gorn on the bansuri (Indian flute), can be heard at

I plan to buy a copy of this book for all the children in my life.

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  Usha Rao/2011 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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