How I Learned Geography
written and illustrated by Uri Shulevitz
Farrar Straus Giroux, 2008
Reviewed from library copy.
BLURB: Having fled from war
in their troubled homeland, a boy and his family are living in poverty
in a strange country. Food is scarce, so when the boy’s father brings
home a map instead of bread for supper, at first the boy is furious. But
when the map is hung on the wall, it floods their cheerless room with
color. As the boy studies its every detail, he is transported to exotic
places without ever leaving the room, and he eventually comes to realize
that the map feeds him in a way that bread never could.
award-winning artist’s most personal work to date is based on his
childhood memories of World War II and features stunning illustrations
that celebrate the power of imagination. An author’s note includes a
brief description of his family’s experience, two of his early drawings,
and the only surviving photograph of himself from that time.
Being fascinated with geography I found this book very enjoyable. The author includes enough detail to give the reader a glimpse into his childhood experiences with war and hunger without being graphic or inappropriate in any way. I found the illustrations very expressive. The red and black for war, the sand for homes, and the bright colored clothing for the people. The way Shulevitz used neutral colors to represent the he his family was living before they got the map makes a nice contrast to the brightly colored imaginary journeys he took based on the map. I also liked the note at the end which explained how the story came from his memories and are likely not completely accurate. I also liked the inclusion of a map he drew at age ten and the market scene he drew at age thirteen. This book makes a great introduction to geography and the power it plays in our lives. I highly recommend this book for older elementary students.
Note: I used this book with first graders, but I don't think they understood a lot of it and they didn't fully appreciate the challenging circumstances depicted in the book. Next time I'll use this with older students.
Wrapped in Foil for this week's Nonfiction Monday recommendations and reviews.