Eyewitness: Vote

Eyewitness: Vote by Philip Steele.  DK Publishing, 2008.  72 pages.  Publisher recommends for ages 8-17.  ISBN: 9780756633820.

“Eyewitness: Vote” contains a remarkable amount of information about what it means to vote.  It follows both the history of and current status of voting rights worldwide.  The book spends a good deal of time on a history of democracy.  It explains the many different way countries worldwide have chosen to implement democracy. Besides that, it starts with “Citizens Assemblies” in ancient India and Iraq, then moves to the system of government called “demokratia” which started in Greece in 508 BCE, and traces the development of democracy forward from that time.  The reader will learn about Perikles, the French revolution, the rise of fascism, Thomas Paine, Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi.

The information is presented as topics, which each topic on a two page spread. Every spread includes an explanatory paragraph about the topic and beautiful photographs and captions related to each topic. For example, on the spread entitled “Polling Day” there’s a picture of a Nenets woman, from the Russian Arctic, placing her ballot in the ballot box.  The “Polling Day” spread includes seven other pictures and captions.

Vote invites the reader to dip into the book and become absorbed. One can start anywhere in the book and learn something about voting. It’s also possible to read the book cover to cover but because there’s no strong narrative line I found this frustrating.

At the end is a fascinating “timeline of democracy”, and an equally fascinating “A to Z of famous people.”  There’s also a very thorough index, which is a must in a book constructed as this one is.  In addition, there’s a large poster about voting and a CD of clip-art about voting.

I can imagine children pouring over this book in a classroom, in a library or in their homes.  And I can imagine children returning to it time after time.

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