Reviews /

All About Flags

Authored by Robin Jacobs
Illustrated by Ben Javens  
Published by Cicada Books

All About Flags is a detailed and brightly illustrated nonfiction book filled with fascinating facts and explanations about flags and what their colour and design tell us about their country’s history and identity.

What makes this book stand out it that it is a more in-depth exploration of flags rather than just identifying them by country. The first two chapters of the book are all about the colour, patterns, symbols and designs of flags and how they tell us stories of their identity, history and culture. I found out on these pages, amongst many other things, that red is the most common colour on flags and can be found on 75% of all world flags and that Belize has the flag with the most colours in the world – 12!

This then sets the scene for the rest of the book, all 85 pages, set in chapters by continent, in which all the world flags are featured. Each of these chapters are clearly organised. The first double spread is a map of the continent, with each country numbered to enable you to identify the flag and name of the country illustrated on the corresponding page. The following pages group the flags together according to their similarities in design, colour and features with information about each flag. This for me is the heart of why this book works. Connecting flags with the reasons for the way they are designed is a sure way to remember them.

On each page there are cartoons of two children with speech bubbles. I like that in the opening introductory chapters, these speech bubbles are posing questions which invites children to be inquisitive and curious as well as fact-finding throughout the book. The rest of the speech bubbles in the book are information bubbles and I would have liked to see more questions posed throughout. The first question posed in the book, where it states that flags can be used for many purposes, such as identifying communities and groups of people is ‘Do you know what these flags mean?’ accompanied by illustrations of three flags: a Pride flag, Olympic flag and flag with a skull and crossbones symbol. I think as well as inviting discussion with the question it would have been useful to have some information about these flags here too.

I do like the way this book is designed. Each page is set on pieces of lined and squared paper. And on the page, the information is presented as small pieces of this paper cut out and stuck on with coloured sticky tape. A clever idea as these are the kind of writing pads many children may have and could inspire them to create their own page of a newly designed flag based on what they have found out in the book. Like all good information books, All About Flags has an index of all the countries included with all the pages you can find them on, so appealing to the kind of reader who might just want dip into to find out about a particular country and flag. There is also a comprehensive glossary of terms, although it might have been helpful to have these words in bold throughout the book so you know you can find it in the glossary.

All About Flags is a must-have book for all flag enthusiasts and highly recommended for all Key Stage 2 classrooms and libraries and one that will provide hours of poring over at home either independently or with adults.