Saturday, November 22, 2008

Wonderful Geography Book for Learning the 50 States!

I was very lucky to get the opportunity to review a wonderful geography book by Schoolside Press called The Little Man in the Map. E. Andrew Martonyi has come up with some really creative stories to help your child remember where all the 50 states are located. This book has won two awards and been a finalist for two others. Now I know why!

The book starts out in a classroom setting where the students are asked to look at the different shapes of the states and see what they remind them of. The students soon discover that the states right down the middle of the map (Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, and Louisiana) create the shape of a little man. The little man (called MIM in the book) comes alive and takes over from there. With a little imagination, MIM goes through the entire 50 states telling a short story that will help your child remember them by. Each story then has a corresponding picture that is drawn on the state for a visual clue. Of course the author has tried to create stories and images that reflect the shape of each state. That's what makes this book so successful.

Some things I like about the book, in addition to the stories, are how the states are split into regions which helps to group them into smaller chunks to learn. These regions are displayed two different ways. One is an enlarged version which helps to see the disctinctive shape of each state and the second is highlighted in color on a full black and white U.S. map.

We have really enjoyed this book at our house! My son loves geography so this was sure to be a hit. However, he did not know the 50 states by heart. This has really helped in the short time we have had it. He has asked to read this book together at times when we are NOT doing school. He rarely asks to do something that could be considered educational when school is not going on. He has even been showing our relatives the different states on a map and telling them the different stories that go along with them. Out of the blue tonight he said he would love to have a puzzle of the United States (guess I know one of the things I'm getting him for Christmas!). I think it says a lot about a book when children want to read it on their own and are excited about learning from it. It also speaks volumes when they can easily recall the information they have read. My son does love geography so perhaps that's why this has come easily to him. But I can only think that this would be especially helpful to the child who does not like geography or it does not come easily to him. This is a much more fun approach to learning the location of the 50 states rather than the boring methods that are usually used.

On thing I thought I would mention that wasn't a big deal to me, but might be to others, is the fact that some of the characters included in the stories or pictures were elves or magical creatures. The book in no way teaches about elves or magic. It is written in a very whimsical fashion and meant to be the children using their imagination. I thought it would be fair to make some people aware of this in case it would be offensive to them.

To find out more about how you can get this book, please go to This is a nice hardcover book with a dust jacket. It's 9.75 x 11.25 inches and costs $19.95. Definitely worth the money if your child walks away effortlessly learning where the 50 states are. They also have a wall map with the 50 states and the pictures for the stories are drawn in each of the states. It's 38 x 22 inches and costs $21.95. In addition, they have free coloring pages you can print from the site. I would love to see this company create a U.S. puzzle with the picture clues on it. Schoolside press also has in the plans a book to learn the state capitals for all 50 states. Be on the lookout for that too! It looks like it will be good!

Heidi Miller-Ford

No comments: