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Provided by the publisher
"Off to Class" shares about schools and classes around the world.

Picture books portray children in their unique locales with their special families and favorite pastimes. Following are a selected few showing children around the world:

"LITTLE TREASURES: Endearments from Around the World," by Jacqueline K. Ogburn, illustrated by Chris Raschka, Houghton Mifflin, $16.99 (ages 4-8)

Around the world children are loved with sweet and silly names known as "endearments." Jacqueline K. Ogburn has collected endearments from 14 different countries and with phonetic subtitles, and she encourages everyone to try spreading sweet names. For example, Russian children may be called “precious” or “golden one” while children in Australia may be “possum.” Somewhere in the world children will be “cutie,” “honey,” “little mischievous pea” or "mera chandra.” It all means “I love you,”

Chris Raschka’s stylized sketches add interest. Each is unique to reflect the individuality of the endearment.

"CHILDREN OF THE WORLD: How We Live, Learn and Play in Poems, Drawings, and Photographs," by Anthony Asael and Stephanie Rabemiafara, Rizzoli/Universe, $29.95 (all ages)

All 192 United Nations member countries are represented in this 142-page book of candid photos, maps, poems and child-created artwork. Shown are children’s choices of food, clothing and favorite pastimes from around the world. When they write of their homes, friends and dreams (“a country full of peace,” wrote one child from the Philippines), their unique languages, locales and customs are evident. While “Children of the World” portrays the diversity of children, the most striking factor are the similarities among them. They are all children of our world.

Anthony Asael and Stephanie Rabemiafara are founders of Art in All of Us, a non-profit organization promoting tolerance and cultural exchanges through art and creative activities. Their travels led to more than 300 schools, which participated in the making of this collection. Proceeds from “Children of the World” will go to the United Nations and Art in All of Us projects throughout the world.

"A FULL MOON IS RISING," by Marilyn Singer, pictures by Julia Cairns, Lee & Low Books, $19.95 (ages 5-10)

In many countries around the world there are celebrations to the moon, particularly the full moon. Marilyn Singer has written verses about a dozen locations that honor the magic of a full moon. In Turkey, there once lived a child goddess of the moon while in Morocco a “boy dreams of traveling/But it is not the familiar desert he is crossing/It is the moon.” In Iowa, a boy listens to grandfather tell about harvesting by “moonlight brighter than the headlights.” In Canada, a child sails on the Bay of Fundy “Set out on a high tide/Always thanks the moon.”

Singer has included the full legends as a glossary. The stunning watercolors accompanying the poems are lavish and expressive. Young readers should be encouraged to “look up” and remember everyone everywhere shares the same full moon.

"THE MANGROVE TREE: Planting Trees to Feed Families," by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore, Lee & Low Books, $19.95 (ages 5-8)

Many children around the world go to bed hungry every day. Such was the case of the children in Hargigo, a village in the tiny African country of Eritrea, before Dr. Gordon Sato began an experimental project of planting mangrove trees in the salty soil near the Red Sea. In a combination of poetry and prose, Susan L. Roth tells how the village benefits from the trees. “The leaves take carbon dioxide out of the air.” A mixture of mangrove leaves, seeds and fish "help the mother animals produce more nutritious milk,” thus feeding many more people in the village.

Cindy Trumbore’s mixed media illustrations add cultural tones that augment this glimpse of children in a faraway land and their survival there.

"DANCING ON GRAPES," by Graziella Pacini Buonanno, illustrated by Gina Capaldi, Boyds Mills Press, $16.95 (ages 5-8)

When the grapes are picked in September, the family prepares for one of the most festive days in Tuscany, crushing the fruit to juice. When Claudia turns 6, she is old enough and brave enough to climb to the cantina roof and into the tub for “stomping.” “The grapes pop and explode under my feet, squirting sweet juice.”

The Italian tradition is told from a child’s viewpoint with delicate, action-filled illustrations that are sure to raise many questions from young listeners.

"OFF TO CLASS: Incredible and Unusual Schools Around the World," by Susan Hughes, Owlkids, $12.95 paperback (ages 9-13)

The United Nations' “Rights of the Child” states that all children have the right to an education. In dozens of places, children attend classes in boats, mud huts, in the open air limited by monsoon and floods, or even in caves. Some children must pay exorbitant fees, while others have “selected” classroom enrollments limited to only the highest caste population. Many children live in such remote locations that school is out of the question. There are cultures that only allow schooling for boys, and some only until an age for employment. Some fathers in Kenya are paid a “dowries fee" so the girls can attend school rather than marrying young.

While education worldwide is still uneven — and does not always meet the U.N. mandate of “all children” — Susan Hughes has shown examples where improvements are being made and traditions are questioned. If nothing else, “Off to Class” should help American children appreciate their own incredible schools.