Anno’s China is the first in a unique series of books on world cultures from Beautiful Feet Books. These are picture books, but with very detailed illustrations that convey all sorts of information about the geography and culture of the featured country. While there is no text on the pages with illustrations, there are notes for every scene at the back of the book.
In Anno’s China, author Misumasa Anno narrows the focus of this study of China by creating detailed watercolors of places in imaginary encounters as you follow China’s Yellow River upstream. In a sense, this is a timeless book rather than a snapshot of a certain era. There are horses, carts, and camels but no automobiles. It looks like China might have looked in past centuries, and maybe for many centuries prior to that.
In one scene we see the yard of a farmhouse as we look across the river. Family members are drying rice and carrying hay. Washed clothes are hung to dry on a boat and on tree limbs. Another scene shows busy traffic on a narrow floating bridge across the river while next to it we can see construction in progress on a large arched bridge. Meanwhile a large boat is heading toward a collision with the floating bridge. There’s consternation on board the boat as well as on the bridge. Men on shore haul on ropes tied to the boat, apparently trying to pull it to shore. In other scenes, we encounter major landmarks such as the Great Wall of China and the Silk Road. Every scene takes up a two-page spread. Most of the 21 scenes in this book are very detailed and complex showing many events occurring simultaneously as you would find in real life.
Some details are explained in the notes at the back of the book, but much will be left to your own speculation. I love this aspect since children (and adults) need to look closely and think about what they see then try to come up with their own explanations and ideas about what is happening—fabulous opportunities for picture study as Charlotte Mason recommends.