Right On Time! It's About Time by Pascale Estellon
YOU CAN'T SEE IT, YOU CAN'T HEAR IT,
YOU CAN'T TOUCH IT, YOU CAN'T SMELL IT,
BUT YOU CAN COUNT IT...
WHAT IS IT?
It's TIME, of course, that subject of science and poetry throughout the ages, a completely abstract concept, yet something we are always measuring, using something we can wear, stick in our pockets, hang on the wall, or carry in our DNA--our constant companion, our sometime friend or sometime enemy, a thief who steals our youth, Father Time, the metaphysical background of our lives.
Pascale Estellon's timely new It's About Time: Untangling Everything You Need to Know About Time (Owlkids Books, 2014) takes on the challenge to explain the practical aspects of time to young children (prudently leaving the physics and metaphysics to their college professors). Estellon begins with the smallest unit kids can imagine--the second--using a conveniently hands-on demonstration of its duration!
WHAT IS A SECOND?Estellon does the same for minutes, with a double-page spread that guides children to count seconds up to sixty--the minute.
It's how long it takes you to turn this page.
The hour is a bit harder to describe, and Estellon suggests making and baking a pound cake, which indeed does take about an hour for her oven timer-setting chefs, Lily and Jacob, following her recipe.
From there, the author tackles the day, which confusingly can mean the daylight hours or a period of 24 hours. To demonstrate, the author guides Lily and Jacob, through making a paper plate clock, with separate dials for hours and minutes, and a double-page spread demonstrates the positions of the minute and hour hands for different times of the day. She explains the casual terms--morning, afternoon, evening, and night--and the more technical A.M --ante meridian or before midday--and P.M.--post meridian or after midday--with illustrations from Lily's day.
Estellon then moves on to the week, and its days, with some quizzes to check understanding of the concept of yesterday, today, and tomorrow, before moving on to the days of the month, how they are described as ordinal numbers (the third, the fourteenth), and the names of the months, and their curious habit of having different numbers of days. The French Estellon eschews the old English mnemonic rhyme "Thirty days hath September...." for the less well-known knuckle-and-valley-between trick, which helps with the months with 31 days but leaves kids on their own for the rest of the months. She rounds out the year with the four seasons, shown in somewhat confusing monthly memes for American and Canadian kids (*August as a ship on the ocean?) and the more familiar garb for winter, spring, summer, and fall.
Rounding out her summary of time, Estellon ends with the century, and throws in a little lesson on writing dates like birthdays:
This is Lily's birthday. How old is she?
Friday September 16 2005
Untangling Time is a tall order, and perhaps that bit about Everything You Need to Know About Time is somewhat overstated, but Estellon's book takes on the everyday aspects of time for the early childhood curriculum well, covering the dual concepts of mental time and telling time. Visualizing time as a tangled ball of yarn being stretched out through the days succeeds as well as many a working metaphor for time, and the author's appealing illustrative style and piquant page design add a lot of panache to this important subject for primary graders. Pair this informative overview with some funny fantasy and skill reinforcement with Telling Time with Big Mama Cat, which comes with charming illustrations by the noted Barry Moser and a working clock face model at the front of the book.
*Almost all French businesses shut down for vacations throughout August, and many folks set sail for holiday trips.