Nomads: Life on the Move by Kinchoi Lam

Nomads: Life on the Move by Kinchoi Lam. Cicada Books Ltd, 2023, c2022. 9781800660328

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Format: Hardcover

What did you like about the book? Seven nomadic cultures from around the world are described in this handsome, engaging nonfiction volume. With a map to start, and beautiful images crafted by monotype and digital collage, the book honors the traditions, history and current reality of the Roma, Yanomami, Tuaregs, Maasai, Nenets, Mongolian nomads, and the Sama-Bajau. It was fascinating to learn a bit about each group and how they fit into the greater fabric of their country. For instance, the Nenets, pastoral nomads of Siberia, revere the reindeer, and eat its meat raw. The Sama-Bajau, a seafaring people who live on the waters around the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia, have evolved to have larger spleens in order to allow them to spend up to thirteen minutes under water.

An introduction defines the three types of nomadic peoples (hunter gatherers; pastoral nomads; and tinker/traders) and highlights nomadic life throughout human history. I appreciated Lam’s view that people today can learn about sustainable living through understanding these cultures. Each of the seven cultures has a chapter with full bleed artwork portraying the geography, clothing, shelter and methods of transportation. Lam’s artwork is able to capture the intimate aspects of the nomads’ lives as well as the broad strokes of their migratory rituals. The engaging text points out social structure, the place of women, and specific artistic traditions. There’s a glossary at the end. This book is great introduction to a group that many children haven’t heard of, and can spur further research and thinking about what we can learn from nomadic lifestyles.

Anything you didn’t like about it? There are no sources listed. The metric measurements of size and distance may pose a challenge for some US readers. Lastly, there is a typographical error, which hopefully will be corrected by the time of the book’s US release in May 2023.

To whom would you recommend this book? For ages 6 and up, and anyone who likes to read about other cultures.

Who should buy this book? There is very little on nomadic cultures in children’s literature, so this is a good purchase for elementary school and public libraries.

Where would you shelve it ? 305 or 909

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Near the top

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

Date of review: January 30, 2023

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