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review 2017-08-14 20:35
Geography for Homeschool
Jaw-Dropping Geography: Fun Learning Facts About Spectacular Stonehenge: Illustrated Fun Learning For Kids - Jess Roche

I know that this book seems young for 7th through 9th grades, but it is a good starting point to get them to research more. It is more of a reference and quick read. Last night I prepared this lesson and a few others to help teach my children how they are going to do reports this year. I also was using it to help them learn note taking habits that would help them as they progress. I know that eventually they are going to be doing some online college style lessons and they will need these skills. 

 

The book was cute and quick and full of information well organized so that it was easy to relay the information to the girls. 

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review 2017-03-30 08:57
Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders - Dylan Thuras,Ella Morton,Joshua Foer

Atlas Obscura is a distillation of the entries on the atlasobscura.com website; it's two creators tried to pick the best entries for most of the world and bound them in a beautiful book full of color photographs and illustrations.

 

I was unaware of the website when I got this book, and I think that probably made it even better: almost all of the entries were new to me and almost all of them were fascinating, or macabre, or so weird they were worth reading about (a breakout section included examples of doctors on Antartica forced to operate on themselves; a man in Vermont that makes art out of spider webs; the breakout map of Lake Monsters of the USA).

 

Each of the entries are only a few paragraphs or less, making it easy to pick up and put down at your leisure. If you like traveling, or armchair traveling, and you enjoy reading about the weird and the wonderful, definitely check this book out.  

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review 2017-03-29 10:07
The Phantom Atlas
The Phantom Atlas: The Greatest Myths, Lies and Blunders on Maps - Edward Brooke-Hitching

Everybody who isn't me knows an atlas is a reference, not something to be read cover-to-cover.  Me?  I had to read it cover to cover, which made this gorgeous, well-written, informative book feel more like a chore than it should have.  

 

This is an atlas of all the places on the maps throughout history that never existed.  Atlantis will be the first example that comes to many minds, but there are so many more.  You wouldn't think maps would be enduring evidence of the human ability to spin a yarn but our ability to make stuff up is timeless.

 

Each entry gets at least a spread and the old maps included (in color where applicable) are gorgeous; almost worth the price of the book on their own.  

 

If you love maps, or geography, this book is beautiful and worth a look; even though I'm glad to finally finish it, it's something I'll treasure and look at again and again. 

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review 2017-03-27 03:01
Me on the Map - Joan Sweeney

I did a practice guided reading with this story, and I thought it was fantastic. This story makes it personal, and more fun to learn about geography and what's on a map.

 

I would use this story to teach Kindergarten, 1st or 2nd grade students about streets, cities, states, etc. I would have them do a graphic organizer of their own map. This lesson could also be done at the beginning of the school year as an icebreaker for the students to get to know each other.

 

Reading Level: 1-2

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review 2017-02-25 08:52
Atlas of Cursed Places: A Travel Guide to Dangerous and Frightful Destinations
Atlas of Cursed Places: A Travel Guide to Dangerous and Frightful Destinations - Olivier Le Carrer

I saw this book in the bookshop and it was the perfect storm of "buy me":  Gorgeous cover, a title with Cursed in it, and content focused on the unusual. 

 

The cover is still gorgeous.  Cursed didn't mean exactly what I thought it meant, though it was still very interesting.  I flashed on the simplest definition: a hex conjured by really pissed off people.  The author used the word in the broader context: places that seem eternally destined for strife, challenges or difficulties; an area prone to high death rates, but because of geography as opposed to the wrath of an individual or group.  Still great stuff, just not quite as edgy.

 

The writing is good, but the editing was disappointing; in a book that was obviously so carefully put together, these word-order errors were jarring.  The author, La Carrer is unapologetically sarcastic at times, and not for humorous effect; I got my edginess, but not in the way I was expecting.  There are small touches of humor here and there, and the entry for Point Cook, Australia is hilarious; he makes it sound like the mecca for animals who are only here to kill you.

 

It's a quick, easy read and I learned a lot; I didn't feel like he chose run of the mill places on the map.  Amityville and Gaza aren't going to be new to anyone but for me at least, most of these were almost or completely new.  Kibera has almost completely squashed my desire to see the Maldives, but I'm now incredibly interested in seeing the Kasanka National Park (spoiler alert: it involves bats).

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