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Cynthia Jaynes Omolulu, illustrated by Randy DuBurke,
When It’s Six o'Clock in San Francisco: A Trip Through Time Zones
Clarion Books, 2009.

Ages 4-8

When it’s six o’clock in San Francisco, Jared is just waking up and looking forward to a cup of hot cocoa. At the very same moment, three time zones over in Montreal, Genevieve is rushing from the Metro before the nine o’clock school bell rings; and Rashida is enjoying spicy dal with her father because it’s seven in the evening in Lahore, Pakistan.

Cynthia Jaynes Omolulu was inspired to write this multicultural book explaining time zones because her children in California were struggling to understand what was going on with their Nigerian cousins eight time zones away.  This concept book takes readers through nine time zones in ten cities, with children playing soccer, running errands, studying, watching the sun rise, and lying in bed.  Not only do we see the different times at any given moment in different parts of the world, we also realize that when it’s snowing in Montreal, it may be raining in Cape Town and hot and dry in Sydney.

An end note offers a map of the world with the 24 time zones and all the book’s cities noted.  The author explains the history of keeping time, from sundials to mechanical clocks, and the eventual need, created by train travel, to standardize time around the world.  Another paragraph explains the difference in seasons between the southern and northern hemispheres.

Though each character’s story plays out in four pages or less, they all have names; and the text and illustrations provide some information about their culture: girls in a Santiago school wear neat uniforms; Genvieve’s French Canadian father kisses her on each cheek; the South African currency is called the rand; an entire family bicycles home at 10:00 p.m. in Beijing.  Award-winning illustrator Randy DuBurke’s evocative illustrations offer close-ups of each scene as well as shots from different perspectives, which make the various characters’ experiences more familiar to the reader.  The message is clear throughout that while the details may differ, we can all relate to each other. No matter what time it is where you are or what you are doing, there is a kid somewhere in the world doing something ordinary that you've done before and will probably do again

Abigail Sawyer
December 2009

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