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A World of Wisdom | Review

A World of Wisdom: Fun and Unusual Phrases from Around the Globe cover

A World of Wisdom: Fun and Unusual Phrases from Around the Globe
by James Chapman
Andrews McMeel Publishing, $14.99

This colorful comic guide to idioms is such fun to dive into.

Proceeding by topics, each section compares expressions from different cultures. Sayings are grouped by the animal kingdom, aquatic life, facial hair, dancing, love, advice, nature, food, and books. Cats, due to their popularity, have their own chapter, as do dogs.

Particularly popular ideas, such as “when the cat’s away, the mice will play,” get their own page of comparisons. The section on human behavior compares different versions of proverbs such as “a bad workman blames his tools” or “the pot calling the kettle black.”

Each page features the phrase in English, as well as its original language, the country it’s from, an explanation of its meaning, and a light-hearted illustration.

Two tigers cannot share a mountain.

Seeing similar ideas expressed in such distinctive ways is a welcome lesson in cultural diversity. On the flip side, some common sayings in other languages are similar to English, reinforcing how humans value the same things. Some phrases require explanation, which provides learning. Plus, there’s a bunch of good advice told in memorable comparisons. A World of Wisdom is a great book to dip in and out of.

Johanna About Johanna

Johanna Draper Carlson has been reviewing comics for over 20 years. She manages, the longest-running independent review site online that covers all genres of comic books, graphic novels, and manga. She has an MA in popular culture, studying online fandom, and was previously, among many other things, webmaster for DC Comics. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

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