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Saturday, July 15, 2017

Four Picture Books showing History through Illustrated Maps and Atlases

Journeys in Time 
A New Atlas of American History
by Elspeth Leacock and Susan Buckley
illustrated by Rodica Prato
published in 2001
publisher Houghton Mifflin

Starting with the Anishinabe, the book takes us through the highlights of American history through a set of maps which captures the story of the people who were constantly on the move to establish this new world, the people whose enterprise and enthusiasm has brought us to modern day. Each double-page spread has an illustrated map showing the journey discussed on that page, plus a Facts box that establishes the takeaway message from that journey. The book ends with events in 1976 with the ending of Vietnam war.

The younger one being overly fond of maps, this was a fun way for him to learn history without feeling overwhelmed with dates and names.

[image source:]

Kids Make History 
A New Look at America's Story
by Elspeth Leacock and Susan Buckley
illustrated by Rodica Prato
published in 2006
publisher Houghton Mifflin

A companion volume to the Journeys in Time mentioned above, the authors share twenty true stories  by showcasing the part played by kids in making history.

Starting with Powhatan's favorite daughter, Pocahontas (known only to her family as Matoaka), in 1607, we walk through several momentous events upto and including 9/11: The Day the Towers Fell, in 2001.

1692: Evil in the Air chapter was the older child's favorite as it left more questions unanswered and teasing her imagination. It was about Ann Putnam and her accusations -- about witchcraft practitioners and the terrible witch hunt that ensued.

We learn about Nick Wilson, the White Indian Boy, Susie Baker whose childhood in slavery came to an end thanks to the Emancipation Proclamation.

As with the Journeys in Time, each double-page spread has an illustrated map showing the region in play, charting the course of history.

[image source:]

Mapping the World 
by Sylvia A. Johnson
published in 1999
published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

This is one of the books I wished I had when I was young. Starting with one of the oldest world maps found so far -- made in Babylonia around 500 B.C. on a clay tablet, we learn about the various attempts at charting the world based on information available at that time, ending with Mapping Other Worlds like Venus based on our scientific data.

From mapping the ocean floor to GIS map showing US population, this is quite a treat for the facts-oriented, map-loving kid. Hope this book is updated and a new edition comes out with all the fantastic capabilities we have now of mapping celestial objects in outer space. It definitely is a bit ancient for the modern child but full of relevant facts anyway.

[image source:]

City Atlas 
Travel the world with 30 city maps
illustrated by Martin Haake
written by Georgia Cherry
published in 2015
published in US by Wide Eyed Editions, an imprint of Quarto Inc.

As the title says, 30 cities are introduced, cities that are world-famous and easily recognized, via illustrated pictures of the main attractions. The population of the city, language(s) spoken, as well as the country's flag is listed, along with a brief paragraph about what that city is famous for.

For instance, Lisbon apparently is famous for its custard tarts (I didn't know that!). Budapest, the magical capital of Hungary became a single city in 1873 when Buda and Obuda on the west bank of Danube were unified with Pest! This is a nugget I will carry with me for as long as my short-term memory permits.

Cities were mostly American/European, with a few like Mumbai, Tokyo, Hong Kong representing Asia, and nothing from Australia/Oceania, although Cape Town was the sole mention in Africa. Which leads me to think that the criteria for selecting the cities must have been quite specific and clear to the authors/editors - perhaps population, tourism, economy, stability may all have played a role in making it to the top 30 for this book.

My favorite part was to point out to the younger child all the places I had visited when I went to 9 out of the 30 cities listed. And to talk about the places he would like to visit from this list.

[image source:]

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