All About Indonesia by Linda Hibbs

All About Indonesia by Linda Hibbs

All About Indonesia is a children’s book that takes children on an adventure through one of the world’s largest and most culturally diverse countries. Along the way, kids are introduced to what everyday life is currently like for its inhabitants. The book has a little bit of everything, offering an overview of Indonesian landscapes, history, government, language, culture, food, transportation systems, the country’s natural beauty, special celebrations and variety of religions.

Most books that have been produced about Indonesia for children tend to give a geographical tour of the main islands with accompanying photos, often throwing in statistics and historical information that children can’t really relate to. Targeted to 3rd to 5th grade children, a unique aspect of All About Indonesia are the hands on activities that allow kids or parent and child to interact and create something that relates directly to Indonesian culture.

Kids are given fun, practical opportunities to experience and learn on their own through stories, songs, crafts and recipes. For example, step-by-step instructions explain how to build a volcano, design a traditional topeng mask, kancil and buaya wayang puppet; create beautiful batik cloths and other crafts; prepare green coconut crepes (dadar gulung) or an avocado drink; learn the musical score “Until We Meet Again” (Sampai Jumpa Lagi). Short lessons in basic vocabulary from the national language, Bahasa Indonesia, empower kids to introduce themselves and mingle with Indonesians.

With a large, clear typeface and humorous graphics the layout is attractive and uncluttered. Attention-grabbing sidebars highlight maps, statistics and facts. An Indonesian-speaking mascot – a baby orangutan character –brings attention to “Did you know? boxes that feature an anecdote or proverb or give tips on travel, manners, culinary habits, greeting people, insights into specific cultures, interesting historical tidbits, statistics and food facts.

The multitude of illustrations, many produced specifically for this publication, make the book very child friendly. Though a few of the pictures are too small, their details not legible, the vast majority of the eye-catching images convincingly portray Indonesia as a fascinating land that is rich in both geography and culture.

Author Linda Hibbs got hooked on Indonesia on her first visit at age 12 and has been studying the language and culture ever since. She has taught Indonesian for more than two decades at the secondary school and university levels, and holds degrees in the Indonesian language and ethnomusicology, as well as a master’s degree in Asian studies.

Hibbs is an educational consultant who has created a number of resources for Indonesian language educators at the primary and secondary levels, including a series of Indonesian for Kids Flash Cards kits. When she isn’t teaching or consulting, Hibbs creates artworks and plays Indonesian music with a gamelan orchestra.

With the author’s background and interest in the music and art, the book also provides insight into the varied musical styles of Indonesia and does not focus on just Javanese gamelan or Balinese dance. Likewise, her background in Indonesian also led her to include little windows into the language throughout the book. The “Say It” feature contain common Indonesian language nouns and useful expressions on the subject being covered in that particular section of the book, whether it be city or village life, how to count, how to bargain, performing arts, culinary terms, etc.

The book covers a broad spectrum from popular sports to traditional dances, from everyday dress to foods and school activities – a multicultural approach that is an effective and easy way to learn.

Kids learn the differences between living in a big city like Jakarta and living in a small village or around a beach and volcano on Bali and Sumatra. Even pop culture phenomena are included such as the Idol-type TV shows popular with many Indonesians. The sections on going to school and what Indonesian youngsters do in their free time should have particular interest to young readers.

Informative, entertaining, and child-friendly, with a pleasing mixture of photographs, cartoons, line art, sketches, recipes and musical scores, this book is a wonderful learning resource. Information is succinct which makes the book best suited for casual browsing or as an introduction to this exotic, faraway country, even for adults. All About Indonesia is particularly suited for anyone looking to do a multicultural project, to teach a grade school class about Indonesia or as a reference when homeschooling your child about different cultures around the world.

All About Indonesia: Stories, Songs and Crafts for Kids by Linda Hibbs, Tuttle Publishing 2014, ISBN 978-080-4840859, hardcover with jacket, 64 pages, dimensions 22 cm x 2.5 cm (8.5 x 11 inches). Available for Rp182,000 at Periplus ( and Ganesha bookstores (

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