At the same moment, around the world

My ten-year-old daughter got a watch for her birthday--go ahead, ask her what time it is! She loves her watch and says it makes her feel both more independent and, somehow, more connected to the world.

At the Same Moment, Around the World by Clotilde Perrin (Chronicle, 2014) says the same seemingly contradictory thing, that our experience of time is both shared and varied. Perrin takes readers on a journey east from the Greenwich Meridian ("It is six o'clock in the morning in Dakar, Senegal. Keita wakes up early to help his father count the fish caught during the night"), stopping at a more-or-less specific location in one of the original 24 time zones on each page. So we go from breakfast in Paris at 8am to lunch in the Himalayan Mountains at noon; sunset in Honolulu at 8pm, and midnight in Mexico City. [And meet Benedict, Lilu, Allen and Kiana, and Pablo, respectively, along the way.] Even though the text reminds us, at every new time, that it's still the same moment, it's easy to forget that the book is not structured as a 24-hour day--not exactly, anyway. The final spread, identical to the first, makes this point beautifully.

Perrin's illustrations, rendered in pencil and colorized digitally, are likewise beautifully drawn and designed to convey all sorts of information--geographic, cultural, personal, whimsical. Even when the locations sharing a double-page spread are very different, Perrin connects them visually, as in this image (one of my favorites, although it's hard to see here) of tropical New Caledonia and snowy Russia:

Perrin's illustrations also relate to each other across the page turns, although this is less obvious in the American edition. Originally published in France in 2011 as Au même instant sur la terre…, the French edition is in a leporello format, which unfolds like an accordion so readers can conceptualize the world in the round:

Chronicle went with a more traditional--although still very vertical--format, substituting a fold-out map specially created for this edition, so readers can locate where in the world each character (pictured on the map's borders) lives relative to the others. Perrin created a lovely new cover and endpapers, too.

Both book designs work wonderfully, albeit in different ways. Which do you prefer?