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People
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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 10, 2006
Without moralizing or mawkishness, Spier here portrays something of the amazing variety of human life on Earth. He points out that "we come in many colors," with different-looking features; that we dress in different ways, enjoy different things, have different personalities, live in different homes, speak (and write) different languages (including a wonderful double-page spread showing samples of 40 separate writing systems!), keep different pets, celebrate different holidays and worship in different ways; that "some of us excel at things others could never do," that "there are more different ways of [earning a living] than you would believe." Yet, he quietly observes, "without a single exception, we all began quite small...and in the end we all must die." Though he never uses the phrase "the brotherhood of man," he manages to get across that, in the most important ways, we are all alike--and, at the same time, he celebrates our diversity ("Imagine how dreadfully dull this world of ours would be if everybody would look, think, eat, dress, and act the same!"). He never exalts one way of life over another, but fills his pages with his trademark detailed, action-filled color sketches and gives each of his examples its moment in the sun. This is a book that not only the youngest kids, but teens coping with the Herd Instinct should read, and that adults can enjoy for its tone and beautiful artwork. Every home and library should own a copy of it. May it never go out of print!
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on September 13, 2006
I got this book as a child and was one of my favorites. It is a beautiful celebration of diversity and universality in human cultures and appearance.

I disagree that the representation of different groups is outdated or stereotyped: perhaps in the United States everyone is encouraged to "blend in" but I have travelled to many countries where people happily wear their traditional dress and markings, like in the book. Anyway, it is a celebration of the diversity that still exists in the world, not a representation of how all people would look if forced to sit in a U.S. immigrant interview or something.

This is a book about the whole world, not ethnic groups as they live in the U.S. or U.K. or Europe. Although many people from far-away countries put on our dress when they come here or work in their own big cities for international companies, that does not mean that they do not still have their own traditions, or that their distant relatives in those countries do not have their own traditions.

It will be a sad day when we can truly say that the diversity shown in this book no longer exists, but that all people now wear more or less the same clothes, have the same beauty standards, and do the same sorts of jobs.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on November 4, 2000
I bought this book for my 6 year old who had started to point out the differences she saw in people. With the help of this book I have been able to explain to her in terms she can understand that it is ok to be different. Together we have studied the detailed pictures & explored the differences between our lives and people in other parts of the world. (And yes, we have even discussed that some of the pictures show details that are out-dated.) With the help of this book my daughter is learning that people can not control those things that make us different: skin color, hair texture, shape of our nose and eyes, and that we should not judge each other based on these things but to celebrate our differences. And we fully agree with the book: this world sure would be a boring place to be if we all were the same! This Christmas we will share 'People' by Peter Spier with our family and friends!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 2000
This is a great book to get children (and even some adults) beyond egocentric thinking, to expose them to diverse cultural icons and to the celebration of individual differences. Each page is richly illustrated in colorful "where's waldo-esque" detail, providing plenty of stimulation to keep children focused and interested through its entirety. Some of the visual images do reflect outdated cultural stereotypes, but do not detract from the main theme.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
This is one of the books that my preschool class wore out (not tore up!) halfway through the school year! Older children can read the culturally sensitive text and all children love the colorful, interesting pictures.
My only problem with the book is the naked, rear view of Adam and Eve in the beginning. Children tend to giggle at it as well as wanting an explanation of who those people are; which causes a problem in the classroom and occasionally an issue with parents when their chilren tell about it at home. And that's not MY problem with the book; it's just the way it is in our society. society. Someone could simply glue those pages together or exise them with a sharp knife, but I don't recommend that.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on January 25, 2000
"People" is a book not just for children, but for adults also. Reading--rather--talking about the pictures in the book with your child or your co-worker is learning about how different our world is and how diversity is beautiful. It's fun to see how people from all over the world look, play, pray, dress and eat in different ways; sometimes in a very silly way--depending on which side you are. I have used the book for many years in my human rights education workshops and I will use it now with adults to do inter-cultural relations and communications workshops. This book belongs in every child, student, family, and human relations manager's bookshelf.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 11, 2003
Im 25 now and although I have since lost the original, this was one of the first books I had when I began to read and really is wonderful. I agree with s. burn's review, the book portrays the diversity within the world without passing any judgement good or bad. This is such a good book that I am buying a copy to replace the one I lost.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 13, 2000
This is among our family's favorite books---you never get tired of looking through it. Yes, there are some stereotypic pictures but it is clear within the context of the book that all cultures are valuable and fascinating. (and the pictures in question are part of many double-page spreads covered with little detailed illustrations, not some huge stand-alone, dated, depiction of tepees and igloos) The text is poetic and moving and beautiful. We read this in our house often, our teenagers still like it, and we bought copies just to keep for when they are grown.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 15, 2001
I think this book is cool. I like this book because it lets you see how others live,eat,and survive. It also tells you how people communicate even if there deaf,blind or mute.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 2, 2011
People, by Peter Spier, is really an outstanding book.

Some overly sensitive twenty first century types may sniff at a perceived lack of political correctness in the use of terms such as Eskimo rather than Inuit, and American Indian instead of Native American. To make matters worse, the Native American is wearing a resplendent feathered headdress, while his squaw sports a single plume from a simple headband. Horror of horrors, the Chinese are portrayed in conical headgear that Wikipedia refers to as "coolie hats". In addition, we can expect that the animal rights activists will be bent out of shape by the depiction of cock fighting as a legitimate pastime.

Can this be allowed in present day American schools?

OK everybody, take a deep breath and relax. Let's not miss the point. I'll say it again; this is an outstanding book, notwithstanding references such as the above, which were absolutely innocent in 1980, only 31 years ago, when the book was written.

The whole point of People is that diversity is valuable, rich and much to the benefit of the entire human community. Spier celebrates our differences while underscoring the intrinsic worth of all humanity. And he also draws attention to the things we have in common even in our differences. For example, he notes, "The homes we build are as varied as we are. But we all need a roof over our heads". Or, "What makes some people laugh, makes others cry". And "In the end, we all must die".

The illustrations are engrossing and filled with colorful detail. Children and parents alike can pore over each and every page and then go back and do it again.

It is for good reason that People was selected as the winner of the 1980 Christopher Medal. This award was established to recognize works that "affirm the highest values of the human spirit."

Highly recommended.
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