Primary: Tom Deveson discovers how much the latest voyage of Barnaby enriches geography and citizenship

1st December 2006 at 00:00
Alliteration is only one good reason for sending Barnaby Bear to Brazil.

The friendly furry traveller, familiar to many primary children from his initial appearance in the QCA geography scheme of work and subsequently in a range of BBC educational resources, keeps his ears and eyes open and has a reflective mind. When he visits Rio and the rainforest, he is much more than a mere tourist. His purpose is to persuade children at key stage 1P1-2 to think about what is happening to the world and how they can help change it.

In this excellent pack, he succeeds in a variety of ways. Barnaby meets the Gomez family, making special friends with 11-year-old Eliane. They live in the community of Jacara, deep in the forest, much of which is being drastically destroyed to produce soya to feed animals in the UK. We learn how their plans to protect their livelihood affect children in England as well as in South America. In Rio, Barnaby witnesses the extreme contrasts between rich and poor, taking a look at the luxury of shopping malls and the harsh conditions of the favela area ironically named City of God. But here, too, the message is positive. The collaboration of local people with ActionAid and Greenpeace is something even young learners can understand and share.

The images are superb. Laminated A2 posters show us Barnaby clutching his passport, setting out on a riverboat and sharing a siesta with Eliane in a hammock. But there are also informative maps, scenes of family life and recreation and - especially - tremendous aerial views.

Deforestation takes on an immediate powerful meaning, while the amazing setting of Rio between the sea and mountains will hold children's gaze.

Fifteen bright A4 pictures add to the visual richness. The CD-Rom contains more than 20 minutes of documentary film as well as thought-provoking cartoons. There are numerous cross-referenced suggestions for classroom work. Whether they're finding out about tropical flora and fauna, writing postcards, comparing their own day to the Gomez family's or producing copy for the Bear Times, children will enjoy themselves as they make discoveries about the complexity of the world. Above all, they'll be concerned with the connections between rights, needs and wants that lie at the heart of citizenship. One small bear manages to achieve something important and lasting

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Barnaby Bear in Brazil

Poster pack pound;48.49 DVD pound;23.49 CD-Rom pound;33.49 (all prices include pp) From ActionAid, Chataway House, Leach Road, Chard TA 20 1FR 01460 238000 email:

For ages five to seven

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