April 22, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

But I Have GPS!: Geography | Series Made Simple Fall 2014

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When most people think of geography, their minds go to maps. Though GPS may have eliminated the need for them, geography is so much more than mere cartography; it’s a complex, interdisciplinary field that incorporates both physical and human geography and that studies the Earth and everything on it through themes that include location, place, regions, human-environmental interaction, and cultures. This section tackles books that take on all aspects of the subject, from our homes to cultures and locations all around the globe. These books will help readers understand that any physical or imaginary journey from one place to another is far more than a set of GPS directions and that knowledge of the world and its peoples and cultures will only enhance the voyage.

Preschool to Grade 4

Allen, Nancy. Midwest and Great Lakes Regions. ISBN 9781627176712.

––––. Northeast and Metropolitan Regions. ISBN 9781627176736.

Mitten, Ellen. Appalachian Region. ISBN 9781627176743.

Ownes, Lisa. Southern Region. ISBN 9781 627176750.

––––. Southwestern Region. ISBN 9781 627176682.

Suen, Anastasia. Great Plains Region. ISBN 9781627176705.

––––. Gulf Coast Region. ISBN 9781627176729.

––––. Mountain Region. ISBN 9781627176699.

Vander Hook, Sue. Southern Atlantic Coast Region. ISBN 9781627176767.

––––. West Coast Region. ISBN 9781 627176675.

ea vol: 32p. (United States Regions). glossary. index. photos. websites. Rourke Educational Media. 2014. lib. ed. $29.95.

Gr 3-5 –Large photos are the dominant feature of these books, which begin with a map of each region, followed by information about its indigenous peoples and later settlers, current populations, agriculture and industry, and regional cultures. The books close with “State Fact Sheet” pages and “Show What You Know” reading comprehension questions. Several weaknesses limit effectiveness. Coverage is somewhat overgeneralized, and many of the photos are so generic that they fail to convey a sense of place. Captions and photos don’t always match (for instance, in West Coast, a caption describes snow in a rainforest while the accompanying photo shows no snow). There are some factual errors, such as Northeast’s claim that the Appalachian Trail is the world’s longest walking trail. These factors make these books additional purchases for most libraries.

Anderson, Zachary. Discovering Mission La Purísima Concepción. ISBN 9781627130943.

––––. Discovering Mission Nuestra Señora de la Soledad. ISBN 9781627130790.

––––. Discovering Mission San Antonio de Padua. ISBN 9781627130820.

Buckley, Jeannette. Discovering Mission San Juan Capistrano. ISBN 9781627130851.

––––. Discovering Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. ISBN 9781627130912.

––––. Discovering Mission San Luis Rey de Francia. ISBN 9781627131124.

Cantillo, Oscar. Discovering Mission San Fernando Rey de España. ISBN 9781627131063.

––––. Discovering Mission San Francisco de Asís. ISBN 9781627130615.

––––. Discovering Mission San Francisco de Solano. ISBN 9781627130554.

Connelly, Jack. Discovering Mission San Miguel Arcángel. ISBN 9781627130882.

––––. Discovering Mission San Rafael Arcángel. ISBN 9781627130585.

––––. Discovering Mission Santa Bárbara. ISBN 9781627131001.

Hamilton, Sam C. Discovering Mission San Buenaventura. ISBN 9781627131032.

––––. Discovering Mission San Carlos Borromeo del Río Carmelo. ISBN 9781627130769.

––––. Discovering Mission San Diego de Alcalá. ISBN 9781627131094.

Nunes, Sofia. Discovering Mission Santa Clara de Asís. ISBN 9781627130677.

––––. Discovering Mission Santa Cruz. ISBN 9781627130707.

––––. Discovering Mission Santa Inés. ISBN 9781627130974.

Stevens, Madeline. Discovering Mission San Gabriel Arcángel. ISBN 9781627131155.

––––. Discovering Mission San José. ISBN 9781627130646.

––––. Discovering Mission San Juan Bautista. ISBN 9781627130738.

ea vol: 48p. (California Missions). chron. further reading. glossary. illus. index. photos. websites. Cavendish Square. 2014. lib. ed. $31.36.

Gr 3-6 –These books combine general history about Spanish exploration and colonization in the New World with information about each mission’s founding, operation, secularization, and decline and eventual restoration, as well as content about the associated Native tribes. Clearly written, objective narratives treat Spanish and Native peoples respectfully but describe how mission life and Western diseases caused almost irreparable damage to Native cultures. Each book has a map of the 21 missions and detailed instructions for a model of the one featured. Average-quality contemporary and period photos and illustrations depict missions in various stages but don’t always capture the scope and beauty of some of the restorations. There is also considerable content and illustration overlap. While most libraries outside California will find a single-volume history of California missions sufficient, this set is a good choice for libraries that need additional report material.

Jankowski, Emily. History of the Great Lakes. ISBN 9781482414349.

Laplante, Walter. Conserving the Great Lakes. ISBN 9781482414318.

––––. Plants and Animals of the Great Lakes. ISBN 9781482414387.

––––. Waterways of the Great Lakes. ISBN 9781482414417.

Nagelhout, Ryan. People of the Great Lakes. ISBN 9781482414325.

Rajczak, Michael. Visiting the Great Lakes. ISBN 9781482414363.

ea vol: 32p. (Exploring the Great Lakes). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Gareth Stevens. 2014. lib. ed. $26.60.

Gr 3-6 –Treating the Great Lakes as a region that encompasses parts of the United States and Canada, these books provide introductory information in an attractive format. Two-to-four page chapters discuss geographical aspects of each subject, including geology, industry, regions, waterways, and historic and current populations, and explain how they affect or are characteristic of the region. Sidebars add information about related topics. Large illustrations, including photos, satellite images, and maps, add visual interest, and most are well chosen, although a few photos don’t align with the text boxes, such as information about the Edmund Fitzgerald shipwreck superimposed on a full-page photo of a generic shipwreck in Lake Huron. Despite that minor weakness, this set is a good choice for emerging readers.

Lewis, Clare. Clothes Around the World. ISBN 9781484603741.

––––. Families Around the World. ISBN 9781484603727.

––––. Games Around the World. ISBN 9781484603710.

––––. Homes Around the World. ISBN 9781484603697.

––––. Schools Around the World. ISBN 9781484603703.

––––. Shopping Around the World. ISBN 9781484603734.

ea vol: 24p. (Around The World). ebook available. glossary. index. maps. photos. Heinemann-Raintree. 2014. lib. ed. $21.99.

K-Gr 2 –These uninspired offerings introduce readers to basic aspects of daily life around the globe. Books open with an “Everywhere” introduction and close with a question about readers’ clothes, home, ands so on. Word counts average slightly over 100, and most pages have a single sentence paired with a large color photo. The format doesn’t vary, with the image at the top of each page and text at the bottom. A world map identifies some of the photo locations, and a “Picture Glossary” provides illustrated definitions. Many of the sentences are unimaginative (“Some homes are big”). Some of the photos depict children in interesting situations, but others are simply nonspecific scenes of cities, homes, or schoolyards. These selections are unlikely to draw many browsers or hold reader interest.

McAneney, Caitlin. The Compass Rose and Cardinal Directions. ISBN 9781482410839.

Nagelhout, Ryan. Time Zones. ISBN 9781482410686.

Rajczak, Kristen. The Climate Zones. ISBN 9781482408003.

––––. Latitude and Longitude. ISBN 9781482410785.

––––. Types of Maps. ISBN 9781482410631.

Shea, Therese. Reading Map Keys. ISBN 9781482410730.

ea vol: 24p. (Map Basics). further reading. glossary. index. maps. websites. Gareth Stevens. 2014. lib. ed. $22.60.

Gr 3-6 –These books are a tutorial on how to read and use maps. They are divided into nine facing-page “chapters,” with about two paragraphs that introduce and define a topic on the left and a well-captioned full-page photo or map on the right. A “Just the Facts” banner on each text page adds more information or an interesting example. Vocabulary and content are elementary, with concrete examples that will help emerging readers understand maps. There is some oversimplification (Latitude implies that Galileo solved the problem of measuring longitude, but he only developed an early method that was never actually used by seafarers) and omission of important information, such as Time Zone’s failure to explain the International Date Line. Most of the content is widely available in either extant titles or online sources, making them supplemental report or classroom support choices.

Grades 5 & Up

Altman, Linda Jacobs. Colorado. ISBN 9781627124829.

Bjorklund, Ruth. Louisiana. ISBN 9781627127400.

––––. Massachusetts. ISBN 9781627125000.

Brill, Marlene Targ. Minnesota. ISBN 9781627127486.

Burgan, Michael. California. ISBN 9781627126298.

Dornfeld, Margaret. Wisconsin. ISBN 9781627127608.

Elish, Dan. New York. ISBN 9781627127523.

Gaines, Ann. North Carolina. ISBN 9781627127547.

Hess, Debra. Florida. ISBN 9781627127363.

Otfinoski, Steven. Maryland. ISBN 9781627127431.

ea vol: 80p. rev. ed. (It’s My State!). further reading. glossary. index. maps. photos. websites. Cavendish Square. 2014. lib. ed. $34.21.

Gr 4-6 –Bright photos, appealing layouts, and readable information make this third edition an engaging series. Books are only minimally revised from the second editions, especially in chapter texts. They open with a pictorial “Quick Look” at the state’s symbols, followed by an introductory overview and four chapters, which address its history, people, government, and economy, incorporating census-based population and ethnic group statistics. The most significant addition is increased coverage of early and current Native groups. Another new feature is the inclusion of illustrated “Ten Key” fact lists about locations, plants and animals, cities, people, and events. A detailed state map (with a skills quiz) can be found in the back matter. Report writers will find plenty of standard information, making these solid options for collections that don’t have previous editions.

Aykroyd, Clarissa. Meeting Future Challenges: The Government of Mexico. ISBN 9781422232231; ISBN 9781422286883.

Burt, Janet. Mexico’s Pacific North States. ISBN 9781422232255; ISBN 9781422286906.

Carew-Miller, Anna. Famous People of Mexican History. ISBN 9781422232156; ISBN 9781422286807.

––––. Vital and Creative: The Art and Architecture of Mexico. ISBN 9781422232194; ISBN 9781422286845.

Field, Randi. Mexico’s Gulf States. ISBN 9781422232248; ISBN 9781422286890.

Hunter, Amy N. Ancient Land with a Fascinating Past: The History of Mexico. ISBN 9781422232187; ISBN 9781422286838.

McDaniel, Jan. Zesty and Colorful Cuisine: The Food of Mexico. ISBN 9781422232224; ISBN 9781422286876.

Macleod, Deirdre Day. Mexico’s Central States. ISBN 9781422232286; ISBN 9781422286937.

––––. Mexico’s Northern States. ISBN 9781422232279; ISBN 9781422286920.

Madonna, Colleen & Flood Williams. Beautiful Diversity: The Geography of Mexico. ISBN 9781422232149; ISBN 9781422286791.

––––. Fiesta!: The Festivals of Mexico. ISBN 9781422232170; ISBN 9781422286821.

––––. Spirit of a Nation: The People of Mexico. ISBN 9781422232163; ISBN 9781422286814.

Nantus, Sheryl. Mexico’s Pacific South States. ISBN 9781422232262; ISBN 9781422286913.

Sanna, Ellyn. Mexican Facts and Figures. ISBN 9781422232293; ISBN 9781422286944.

Stokes, Erica M. Finding a Financial Balance: The Economy of Mexico. ISBN 9781422232217; ISBN 9781422286869.

––––. Victoria!: The Sports of Mexico. ISBN 9781422232200; ISBN 9781422286852.

ea vol: 64p. (Mexico: Leading the Southern Hemisphere). further reading. glossary. index. maps. photos. websites. Mason Crest. 2014. lib. ed. $22.95. ebk. $28.95.

Gr 5-8 –Quality in this attractive set is uneven. People, History, Cuisine and Sports are the best of the group, with clear prose and enough details to help readers understand their subjects. Others attempt to cover too many topics, resulting in dry, superficial paragraphs that are often little more than lists of places and events. Only the titles on the Mexican states have (inadequately detailed) maps, a serious flaw when all books discuss numerous locations and geographical features. These volumes have numerous colorful photos, but some look like stock images, and their subjects don’t always correspond with accompanying text. Sidebars, glossaries, and reading comprehension questions and research suggestions supplement the texts. These books are better suited to support extensive units on Mexico rather than run-of-the-mill country reports, and even for those programs, superficial coverage and map and illustration weaknesses make them additional selections.

Bankston, John. We Visit Malaysia. ISBN 9781612284828; ISBN 9781612285375. LC 20130339774.

––––. We Visit Singapore. ISBN 9781612284842; ISBN 9781612285399. LC 2013033975.

––––. We Visit The Philippines. ISBN 9781612284835; ISBN 9781612285382. LC 2013033977.

Ejaz, Khadija. We Visit India. ISBN 9781612284774; ISBN 9781612285320. LC 2013033971.

Gagne, Tammy. We Visit Japan. ISBN 9781612284798. LC 2013033973.

Leavitt, Amie Jane. We Visit South Korea. ISBN 9781612284811; ISBN 9781612285368. LC 2013033976.

Mattern, Joanne. We Visit China. ISBN 9781612284767; ISBN 9781612285313. LC 2013041466.

O’Neal, Claire. We Visit Cambodia. ISBN 9781612284750; ISBN 9781612285306. LC 2013033970.

––––. We Visit North Korea. ISBN 9781612284804; ISBN 9781612285351. LC 2013041469.

Roberts, Russell. . We Visit Indonesia. ISBN 9781612284781; ISBN 9781612285344. LC 2013041467.

ea vol: 64p. (Your Land and My Land: Asia). bibliog. chart. chron. ebook available. further reading. glossary. index. maps. notes. photos. websites. Mitchell Lane. 2014. lib. ed. $33.95. ebk. $33.95.

Gr 6-8 –Offering substantial detail, books orient “visitors” with an introduction and “Facts at a Glance” page, followed by chapters that discuss each country’s physical features, culture and customs, history, economy and language, concluding with a recipe and instructions for a craft project. ;Authors emphasize defining characteristics of each country, such as repression in North Korea and economic opportunity in Singapore. There are some weaknesses, including occasional dryness and crowded layouts. Maps are limited to a small map of Asia and a dated-looking country map in each book, and neither includes many of the physical features and locations mentioned throughout the texts. Generic photographs don’t always match content, and readers are likely to be frustrated when they don’t find photos of locations, animals, and landmarks that the authors describe. These weaknesses will limit readers’ enjoyment of their “visits,” making books supplemental choices.

Blake, Kevin. Lost in the Antarctic. ISBN 9781627242899; ISBN 9781627243476.

Burgan, Michael. Lost in a Rain Forest. ISBN 9781627242912; ISBN 9781627243469.

Goldish, Meish. Lost in the Desert. ISBN 9781627242851; ISBN 9781627243414.

––––. Lost in the Woods. ISBN 9781627242936; ISBN 9781627243483.

––––. Lost on a Mountain. ISBN 9781627242929; ISBN 9781627243490.

Prentzas, G. S. Lost at Sea. ISBN 9781627242905; ISBN 9781627243452.

ea vol: 32p. (Stranded!: Testing the Limits of Survival). bibliog. ebook available. further reading. glossary. index. photos. Bearport. 2014. lib. ed. $26.60. ebk. $33.27.

Gr 4-6 –Would-be explorers and adventurers will relish these survival stories set in some of the world’s most dangerous and isolated environments. Books open with the first of three- or- four dramatic, real-life stories, followed by a well-written general introduction to the region—including landforms, flora and fauna, weather, and culture—and close with a survival guide. A world map highlights the regions, and the stories center on teens and adults stranded in locations in the United States and around the globe. Authors don’t minimize the survival struggles, some of which ended in death, but avoid sensationalism. Appealing layouts feature text boxes with ample information and boxed color photos and maps superimposed on full-color background photos. These books make learning about these regions exciting and entertaining. Bound to draw an audience, this series is a solid first-purchase choice.

Derovan, David. Israeli Culture in Perspective. ISBN 9781612285665.

Nardo, Don. North African Cultures in Perspective. ISBN 9781612285689.

––––. Southeast Asian Cultures in Perspective. ISBN 9781612285658.

Tracy, Kathleen. Islamic Culture in Perspective. ISBN 9781612285672.

ea vol: 64p. (World Cultures in Perspective). chart. chron. ebook available. further reading. glossary. index. maps. notes. photos. websites. Mitchell Lane. 2014. lib. ed. $33.95.

Gr 5-8 –Uneven quality and differing organizational structures make these books a less-than-cohesive series. The strongest is Islamic, which summarizes Islam’s history and analyzes its positive and negative effects on Middle East culture, including early scientific discoveries and contemporary repression of women and terrorism. ;African and Asian are general overviews of family structures, religion, food and popular culture. African discusses the Arab Spring, but doesn’t mention ongoing upheaval in North Africa. Israeli is the weakest title, featuring an improbably fictionalized group of Israeli teens, each with a family history that represents a subpopulation of Israeli culture. Layouts are crowded, with small margins and large color or historic photos. These books are unlikely to hold reader interest and most of their information is readily available elsewhere, making Islam the title that will be most useful to report writers.

Dubois, Jill & others. Israel. ISBN 9780761449959.

Hassig, Susan M. & others. Iraq. ISBN 9780761449942.

Janin, Hunt & others. Saudi Arabia. ISBN 9780761449966.

Pang, Guek-Cheng & others. Canada. ISBN 9780761449911.

Pateman, Robert & others. Egypt. ISBN 9780761449928.

Rajendra, Vijeya & others. Iran. ISBN 9780761449935.

ea vol: 144p. rev. ed. (Cultures of the World). bibliog. chron. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Cavendish Square. 2014. lib. ed. $47.07.

Gr 7 Up –Previously published under the Benchmark imprint, these third editions are comprehensive geographic profiles with chapters about each country’s physical features, history, ethnic groups, culture, religion and languages, economic development, and food and festivals. Revisions include new book and chapter introductions and photos, but text changes are limited to some new paragraphs about recent events or updated statistical information. Authors are positive about each country but discuss problems such as Islamic repression of women and environmental challenges. Well-captioned color photos and maps supplement the texts, and there are Internet links at the end of each chapter. The high level of detail and background information will help report writers understand how geographical factors shaped and define each nation. These books are solid choices for libraries that don’t own the second editions, but they haven’t been revised enough to justify replacement purchase for those that do.

Gagne, Tammy. Greece. ISBN 9781 612285849.

––––. Italy. ISBN 9781612285863.

––––. United Kingdom. ISBN 9781612285795.

Rice, Earle Jr. North and South Korea. ISBN 9781612285887.

ea vol: 48p. (The Evolution of Government and Politics). chron. ebook available. further reading. glossary. index. maps. notes. photos. websites. Mitchell Lane. 2014. lib. ed. $29.95.

Gr 5-8 –With coverage from ancient history to the present (except for the Koreas), these books place the evolution of each country’s government and political system within the larger context of its history. Italy and Greece are the strongest of the group with discussion of how their early democratic traditions influenced other nations and analysis of how decades of economic mismanagement has caused current political instability. Korea focuses on the Cold War and contemporary divergence between the two countries, but misdates a photo of Kim Jong-il and misstates early North Korean economic growth. United Kingdom describes Britain’s progression from absolute monarchy to democracy but doesn’t contain much information about how reductions to the power of the House of Lords made government more responsive to voters. Average-quality photos and maps supplement the texts. Books are occasionally dry and have some content weaknesses, making them additional.

Libraries that want to send students on geographical journeys to new places will find some good choices. “Stranded” is the standout, taking middle school adventurers and explorers to some of the world’s most dangerous environments through sometimes hair-raising stories of people who became stranded in them. Others sets are more suitable for reports. “Exploring the Great Lakes” introduces emerging readers to the geographical concept of regions and the vitally economic and culturally important area. Both “Cultures of the World” and “It’s My State!” are good choices for libraries that don’t hold recent earlier editions. Full of material about the Native peoples and Spanish settlements of the region, “California Missions” will be useful to libraries that support reports on the subject. Bon voyage!

This article was published in School Library Journal's November 2014 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.