A Hundred Thousand Welcomes by Mary Lee Donovan

Reviewed by Wendy Lipke

Writer Mary Lee Donovan, an editorial director at Candlewick Press, and artist Lian Cho have produced a beautiful 27.5 x 26cm hard covered children’s book about hospitality and acceptance featuring the word ‘welcome’ from more than fourteen languages.

Readers are told in the first couple of pages that the text is written as a poem using translations of the English word ‘welcome’. They are also given information about the pronunciation of these words.

A page entitled I will welcome the stranger contains two paragraphs which tell the reader something of the welcoming philosophy which is deeply rooted in all major religions. Readers are also reminded that each one of us at some time will find ourselves in search of acceptance, help or protection and will appreciate welcome from others.

The following pages are beautifully illustrated by Lian Cho who grew up in Taiwan and New Zealand but now lives in America. For her, this book is built around sharing food and she was determined that the people in her illustrations should be real not stereotypes of the cultures presented. Her illustrations depict the way the various cultures around the world welcome others into their homes. Towards the back of the book, she has included a fold-out double page which shows a banquet for these global families.

More densely presented information can be found at the back of the book, presumably for the adult reader, which provides thoughts from the author and artist as well as more details about pronunciation. There is also a list of welcome words and the countries where these are used. This I found very useful as it was sometimes very difficult in the illustrations to identify the exact country which used the particular welcome word. The last page provides a list of selected sources and suggestions for further reading.

I imagine that this book would be a valuable resource in a primary school and provide a platform to address issues such as intolerance, injustice and inhumanity. The writer tells the reader that she produced this book as a means of protest against such behaviours.

This is a beautifully presented book with an important message.

 A Hundred Thousand Welcomes

(2021)

By Mary Lee Donovan, Illustrated by Lian Cho

Greenwillow Books (Harper Collins)

ISBN:978-0-06-322865-8

$15.19; 44 pages

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