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Home | LS5603 Children's and YA Literature | LS6643 Nonfiction for Children and YA
Communication

Communication Aliki. 1993. Communication. New York: Greenwillow Books. ISBN: 0688105297.

This short book is a primer about the basics of communication written at a child's level. Aliki uses simple text and an abundance of colorfully illustrated examples to explain this concept.

Aliki has packed her informative text with details about the process of communication. The book starts out with a basic definition, and then moves into examining the different aspects such as who communicates, how they do it, and the emotions involved in the give-and-take. The author adeptly informs the reader of each new concept to be discussed by using headings that flow into each other. For example, one page is headed by "We communicate through language" (Aliki, unpaged). The illustrations on this page show children talking, speaking, writing, and reading. The next page is headed by "But..." (Aliki, unpaged), and contains examples of communication that are not language, such as a baby rejecting food by showing his displeasure in a facial expression. The following page is titled "There are other ways" (Aliki, unpaged), and shows vonverbal forms of communication such as cavepaintings, modern symbols, and physical gestures. Taken together, these headings seem to form a text of their own. This book is an excellent example of a book for browsing, as each page offers choices of information that can be read alone, such as the headings, short bits of text, and captions in the illustrations.

Although filled with information about the mechanics of communication, Aliki uses her illustrations to focus on the aspect of human emotion that is such a factor in communication. She shows examples of etiquette, problems with miscommunication, and characters who understand their own emotions by writing in a diary. Bush commented on this aspect of the book in her review by stating, "There is an inherent message throughout the book that the principles and problems of communication are universal human experiences."

Aliki uses cartoon-like, full color illustrations that are shown in both strips and full pages. The blocks of pictures and bright colors make them very eye-appealing. McCoy stated in her review, "The vivid illustrations represent a variety of ethnic groups and a wealth of emotional textures." Text and caption are differentiated by having the text typed and the captions printed in the author's own handwriting. Another feature of the book is small animals at the bottom of each page that add relevant quips. The endpapers also include illustrations and examples of the sign language alphabet, braille alphabet, and upper and lowercase alphabet. Notes on the Cataloging-in-Publication page inform the reader that the illustrations were done in watercolor, colored pencils, and a black pen. There are no further access features.

This book is certainly about a topic that has not been explored much in print for this level of reader. Although McCoy states in her review, "Youngsters may enjoy the illustrations and grasp a point or two, but it is unlikely that independent readers will seek it out," a skilled teacher will be able to use this text to work with students to give them an excellent grasp of the subject matter. It is an excellent starting point for exploring many other aspects of communication in our world today.

Bush, Margaret A. 1993. Booklist: Nonfiction. Horn Book Magazine 69(3). In EBSCOHost (database online). Available from http://search.epnet.com/login.asp.  Accessed 11 April 2005.

McCoy, Jody. 1993. Book review: Preschool and primary. School Library Journal 39(4). In EBSCOHost (database online). Available from http://search.epnet.com/login.asp.  Accessed 11 April 2005.

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Holly S.
Graduate Student at Texas Woman's University