Monday 18 October 2021

A History of the World in 25 Cities by Tracey Turner and Andrew Donkin, illustrated by Libby Vander Ploeg


                                                                Link to publisher

                                               Published by: Nosy Crow, 2nd September 2021


In our house, we've always been a big fan of Nosy Crow's collaborative titles with The National Trust. From 50 things to do before you're 11 3/4 to the Look and Say books to The Secret Diary of... series, these books have always been colourful, informative and fun. 

My excitement was, therefore, exceptionally high when I discovered that the same publisher was producing a non-fiction book in collaboration with The British Museum called 'A History of the World in 25 Cities'. Exploring human civilisation through a series of maps, this is a visual, fact-filled tour of the most populated places across our planet. 

This book is visually stunning. It's a coffee table book for kids that looks amazing, smells amazing (I haven't yet stopped breathing in the pages but don't tell anyone) and that immediately evokes a feeling of awe and respect. Working alongside The British Museum, the authors, illustrator and publisher have used exquisite detail to create a book that is meticulous and packed with a wealth of knowledge. 

Opening the pages with the children, we immediately searched for the cities we've visited or have heard most about; London, New York, Paris, Sydney, Rome and Venice. And yet, what I love most about this book is that it also covers the history of less familiar cities, both ancient and contemporary. From Jericho to Tokyo to Baghdad to Cuzco, these are cities I enjoyed finding out about, some of which I hadn't even heard of. 

For each city, there is a full double-spread map with detailed annotations, followed by a second double-spread filled with carefully crafted paragraphs of further information. For number-lovers and ease of accessibility, there is also a column or row summarising the number of bridges, number of islands and the population past and present for each city. I also loved the final spreads entitled 'Cities of Today' and 'Cities of Tomorrow' which gives an important but gentle nod to the issues we are currently facing and how cities need to change in the future. The colour schemes have been carefully chosen to match each map and everytime you dive into the pages, you notice something new. 

This is so much more than a map-book. It's a geography and history lesson rolled into one. It tells us the story of human evolution and how cities evolve with us. It explores how geographical features and historical events have affected the development of the places we live and it details the difference and similarities across continents and cultures. It's perfect for school projects or as a teaching tool in the classroom or just as a book that children can explore with their curiosity and imaginations. It's definitely an investment worth making and will be bound to delight readers of any age. 

A big thanks to Nosy Crow for providing me with a review copy. A History of the World in 25 Cities is available to buy now.  

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