Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Non-Fiction
How I Learned Geography

How I Learned Geography

Spring 2008 Non-Fiction
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Author: Uri Shulevitz
ISBN: 978-0-374-33499-4
Hardcover Price: $16.95
Evicted from their homeland and living in an inhospitable country, a young boy's father returns from the local market with a map of the world instead of the expected ration of bread. Unable to forgive this seeming impracticality, the boy goes to bed hungry only to gradually realize over the ensuring days, months, and years, what a gift his father has actually bestowed on him. As he studies the exotic names on the map, he is transported to burning deserts, sandy beaches, snowy mountains, wondrous temples, groves of fruit, and cities full of tall buildings with "zillions of windows." On some level, the map seems less a reality than a vehicle to launch a series of brilliant, lushly illustrated pictures that glow across the pages. The text itself provides little context for the family's exodus from their homeland and even less for their relocation in an unfamiliar landscape, making their journey at once personal and universal. An author's note, complete with reproductions of the author's early drawings of maps (age 10) and a very similar drawing of the bazaar (age 13) with a startling image of what may be Hitler in the foreground, makes it clear that this is a semi-autobiographical tale. This interesting, somewhat elusive combination of matter-of-fact text and vibrant images may be best suited to an audience beyond the usual picture book age.
Kristi Elle Jemtegaard   ©2008 Parents' Choice
Kristi Elle Jemtegaard is the Coordinator of Youth Services for the Arlington Public Library system. She has taught courses on children’s and young adult literature at the Catholic University of America and the University of Virginia. She has served on both the Newbery and Caldecott Award Committees of the American Library Association and has chaired the Notable Children’s Recordings Committee and the May Hill Arbuthnot Award Committee. She is a member and past president of the Children’s Book Guild of Washington DC and has chaired the Washington Post–Book Guild Nonfiction Award Committee. She is a founding member of Capitol Choices, an organization of professionals in the field of children’s literature in the greater Washington DC area. She regularly reviews children’s literature and audio productions for a variety of national publications.

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