The author actually contacted families in each country, asked them for pictures of the members of the family, their home, school, food and so forth. Then he based his illustrations and text on the pictures as well as conversations that he had with the families. The book can be approached in two ways (and probably more). You could read it as the book is laid out by activity or you could read each country skipping from activity to activity. There is also a glossary, so you can read a description of food dishes or terms that appear in the text. The illustrations are cheerful and show the child in the context of school or play or whatever the activity might be, so that you get a feeling for the people and the way they go about their lives. The countries chosen are in very different continents, climates and socio-economic settings. This is a great book to share with your family or classroom.