I have just sat down to read this book at a time when the world is far from welcoming. Conflict, anger, hatred and distrust are in the air. A Hundred Thousand Welcomes is the tonic that the world so desperately needs.
There are so many ways to make someone feel welcome. Willkommen, yōkoso, khush āmdīd, bienvenida, shāgata…simple phrases that can mean the world. Every day, all across the world, people welcome others into their lives and homes. For when we welcome, accept and embrace others the world can be a better, more harmonious and peaceful place. In our world, everyone is welcome…
Having travelled lots, I have had the joyous experience of being ‘welcomed’ in several different languages, in numerous countries. I never get tired of hearing such a simple phrase, that feeling that even though you are an outsider that you belong, that you have been accepted, that you are truly ‘welcome’.
Everyone is welcome in this heartfelt picture book from Mary Lee Donovan and Lian Cho. Written as a poem, A Hundred Thousand Welcomes is a story of accepting others regardless of race, religion or situation. It is about removing prejudices, embracing other cultures and bonding through conversations, the sharing of stories and the eating of food. No matter the language spoken, offering kindness, friendship and a welcome are universal traits.
Using words for welcome in languages other than English, neighbours, friends, family and strangers around the world greet one another. Cho’s beautiful illustrations exude warmth and express the different cultures, rituals, food and traditions associated with each welcome.
In total, thirteen different languages are represented. From English - spoken by more than one trillion people - to Lakota Sioux - a little known language spoken by so few, just over two thousand, that it is in danger of disappearing. Other featured languages include Indonesian, Mandarin, Arabic, Hindi, Urdu and Bashkir. As the different languages are introduced, phonetic pronunciations are given and are subtly incorporated into the artwork - these can usually be found in the corner or along the bottom.
A lovely introduction explains that ‘there are almost as many ways of making someone feel welcome as there are people on the planet’ and a brief explanation of the International Phonetic Alphabet supports the reading of words in other languages. Back-matter includes two heartfelt and moving notes from author and illustrator, further information on pronunciation, details about the languages used and a further reading list.
If we want future generations to grow up to be tolerant and accepting of others then books like this are essential in helping to breakdown barriers and removing injustices, discrimination and prejudices. Whether children use this book as window into the lives of others or a mirror for them to see themselves, it is sure to delight. A true celebration of people and cultures across the globe.
With huge thanks to Harper Collins for the copy I received in exchange for an honest review.
Recommended for 4+.