Customer Review

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seminal children's work retains its fascination., September 14, 1999
This review is from: Orbis Pictus (1887) (Paperback)
This book, in bilingual English and Latin, translated from the Dutch, is the first book specifically written for children. The lineal ancestor of such works as Richard Scarry's Big Word Book, Diderot's Encyclopedia, and Duden, it comprises chapters on everything from Christian cosmology to household management (16th century style) each illustrated by a woodcut with numbered vignettes which each correspond to a word or phrase in the accompanying essay. Granted, it comprises moral lessons, but isn't quite as preachy as most of the books that followed it. Raw data is the main focus: what things are called, how things are done. It therefore has a broadbased appeal: plenty of pictures (it deserves to be redrawn, however), great historical interest (both in itself or for someone curious about "old-timey" things), students of literature, and of course, its original purpose, to teach Latin and English vocabulary.
One example of how clear it is: I used some of the ideas (by taping large sheets of paper on the walls and covering them with wall hangings) in the chapter "The Stove" (which refers to a specially insulated and heated room for use in the winter) to decorate a sitting room in a Depression-era Colonial house prone to drafts. They still work.
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