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Collecting Passions: Discovering the Fun of Stamps and Other Stuff from All Over the Place

by Susan McLeod O’Reilly and Alain Massé, Norman Eyolfson, illus.

Collecting Passions is a visual feast filled to brimming with vibrant cartoon-like images by Norman Eyolfson, illustrator of Jacob Two-Two and the Dinosaur. Unfortunately, the busy spreads will bedazzle readers and make them wonder where to look first. For example, the artwork of a boy’s bedroom filled with oodles of collections completely dominates the two blocks of text on that spread.

Authors Susan McLeod O’Reilly and Alain Massé, both affiliated with the National Postal Museum, begin by discussing collecting in general – everything from hairclips to sports cards. Then a matching activity challenges young wordsmiths to decipher words like laclabphily and planganology. Half the words listed aren’t in any dictionary you can pick up with one hand, and most parents will be unable to help children figure these out.

Although the book’s title implies more, stamp collecting is the only passion dealt with in any detail. Collecting Passions presents a hodgepodge of content including some historical tidbits, a potato stamp lesson, information about the transportation of mail, more vocabulary puzzles, and pictures of stamps with mistakes. Strangely, the section “Let’s Begin Collecting,” which features a list of materials needed to launch this hobby, appears only near the end of the book. These last few pages contain the bulk of the “how to” aspects of stamp collecting. It’s too bad that this book, which could have offered much more, fails to contain much useful information for children who love to collect.