Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Children’s Activity Atlas: An Interactive and fun way to explore your world

Children’s Activity Atlas: An Interactive and fun way to explore your world

Jenny Slater
Illustrator:  Katrin Wiehle , Martin Sanders 
Novelty nonfiction book
For ages 7 to 9
Sterling, 2013   ISBN: 978-1454913207

Since the Internet became commonplace, the world, though it has not changed size, has grown smaller. Gamers in the United Kingdom can play against gamers in Indonesia; Canadians can buy paintings that someone in the Ukraine painted and displayed on a website just for craftspeople; and someone in the United States can compose a song with a musician in China. It is really quite incredible when you think about it. The Internet and social media have made it possible for us to talk to complete strangers on the other side of the world.

   Now, more than ever, we need to know something about people who live in other states and other countries so that we can connect with them and better appreciate what their lives are like. We need to know something about the places where they live.

   Learning where countries are can be boring, but it does not have to be boring. Using this atlas, and the ‘passport’ that comes with it, children can find out where countries are, and they can also learn interesting facts and figures about these countries.

   Every double page spread in the book displays a whole, or part of, a continent. We begin with North America and we see Canada, the Unites States, Greenland, the island nations that lie in the Caribbean Sea and the countries of Central American. The major ecological zones are shown on the map along with the major cities. Readers will also see little pictures drawn on the map that highlight certain places. For example next to the city of San Francisco there is a picture of the famous Golden Gate Bridge, and in the tundra lands of northern Canada there is a picture of a moose.

    At the bottom of the page there are rectangles containing pictures of the national flags of the countries shown on the page. At the back of the book readers can find stickers of the flags that they can apply in these spaces. If they look carefully they will also see that there is a blank place on Greenland where a sticker of an Inuit is supposed to be. The sticker they need to complete the picture is also at the back of the book.

   A box on the side of the map contains some facts about North America, and a section of text at the top of the spread tells readers a little about the region that they are looking at. Another box contains a map that shows readers where North America is in relation to the rest of the world, and a third box contains an interesting piece of information about North America. We read that “The world’s first national park was opened in the United States over 140 years ago to protect the landscape, plants, and animals there.”

   This format is repeated for maps of South America, Northern Africa, Southern Africa, Northern Europe, Southern Europe, Russia and Eurasia, the Middle East and South Asia, China and the Eastern Sea, Southeast Asia, Oceania, the Arctic, and the Antarctic.

   When readers have finished exploring the maps and placing the flags and missing illustration stickers on the pages, they can get out the ‘passport.’ In it there are spaces where the reader can write in his or her information, and then the reader can go from map to map learning new facts and completing some simple little quizzes. When the reader has completed each section in the passport he or she can add a special sticker to the page and then move on to the next section.

   At the back of the book there are, in addition to the sticker sheets, six postcards that readers can complete and send to friends or family members.

   Finding ways to make learning engaging is not easy, but the together the creators of this book have found a way to make learning geography fun and entertaining.