Unseen Worlds, Newfound Delights: Landmarks & Geography Series Nonfiction

Whether readers have an interest in physically traveling to another place or they enjoy experiencing different scenery from home, these series make exploring more accessible. Readers can pick up these titles and embark on adventures to cultures, countries, mountain peaks, and landmarks that are around the planet and out of this world.

Whether readers have an interest in physically traveling to another place or they enjoy experiencing different scenery from home, these series make exploring more accessible with engaging texts, rich photographs, and supplemental material like integrated QR codes, recommended books and websites, and links to proprietary sites with extended resources. Crossover subject applications exist within several of the series, too, as content supports both science and social studies. Readers can pick up these titles and embark on adventures to cultures, countries, mountain peaks, and landmarks that are around the planet and out of this world.

 

GRADE 3 AND BELOW

Anderson, Corey. Albania. ISBN 9781642805277.
––––. Costa Rica. ISBN 9781642805307.
––––. Jordan. ISBN 9781642805314.
BIRDOFF, Ariel Factor. Afghanistan. ISBN 9781642805246.
Blake, Kevin. Bosnia and Herzegovina. ISBN 9781642805215.
––––. Chile. ISBN 9781642805260.
––––. Malaysia. ISBN 9781642805352.
Goldish, Meish. Bolivia. ISBN 9781642805345.
––––. Bulgaria. ISBN 9781642805369.
––––. Panama. ISBN 9781642805239.
Markovics, Adam. Denmark. ISBN 9781642805222.
Markovics, Joyce. Morocco. ISBN 9781642805321.
Persano, Thomas. Netherlands. ISBN 9781642805338.
Rose, Rachel. Armenia. ISBN 9781642805284.
––––. Indonesia. ISBN 9781642805253.
––––. Liberia. ISBN 9781642805291.
ea vol: 32p. (Countries We Come From). glossary. index. photos. Bearport. Aug. 2019. lib. ed. $28.50.
K-Gr 3 –Each title begins with welcoming color photographs and a single, positive word (often repeated in another title) on each of the opening pages. A map with an inset lets readers know where the country is located, and each country is compared in size to a U.S. state. Readers also get a brief history lesson; a look at the country’s culture through sports, celebrations, language (pronunciation guide included), and food; and the geography and wildlife unique to the country. Most of the titles have a representative entrée and/or dessert from the country, with an accompanying photograph, to whet readers’ appetites. A few confusing statements and sidebars exist, and while photo credits are given, along with a recommended reading list of two titles, no source notes are provided. VERDICT These titles do a fine job expanding young readers’ knowledge about people from countries around the world.

Bassier, Emma. Children’s Museums. ISBN 9781532163463.
––––. Fire Stations. ISBN 9781532163470.
––––. Hospitals. ISBN 9781532163487.
––––. Libraries. ISBN 9781532163494.
––––. Police Stations. ISBN 9781532163500.
––––. Post Offices. ISBN 9781532163517.
––––. Schools. ISBN 9781532163524.
––––. Zoos. ISBN 9781532163531.
ea vol: 24p. (Places in My Community). glossary. index. photos. websites. ABDO/Cody Koala. Aug. 2019. Tr. $27.07.
K-Gr 3 –Readers are introduced to each community organization via brief text and color photographs. People of various skin tones and genders populate each title. Libraries is a bit out of touch, depicting a quiet place to read, though many public and school libraries are not always quiet or focused solely on books. Police Stations portrays a view of cops that may not resonate with some: “People can call the police station if they are in trouble. They know the police will try to help.” The standard table of contents, glossary, and index exist in each title; however, in Police Stations the word interrogation isn’t defined in context or in the glossary. Open-ended questions prompting discussion or further learning are at the end of the book, as are directions to the publisher’s proprietary site for supplemental resources.VERDICT Dated, idealistic content exists in Libraries, Police Stations, and Post ­Offices, so these are additional purchases at best.

Robertson, K.A. Gateway Arch. ISBN 9781731605719; ISBN 9781731604194.
––––. Independence Hall. ISBN 9781731605726; ISBN 9781731604200.
––––. Pearl Harbor. ISBN 9781731605733; ISBN 9781731604217.
––––. Washington Monument. ISBN 9781731605702; ISBN 9781731604040.
ea vol: 16p. (Visiting U.S. Symbols). glossary. index. Rourke/Ready Readers. Jun. 2021. Tr. $27.07. pap. $7.95.
PreS-Gr 2 –Each title begins with a table of contents followed by a picture glossary with a photo from the book and a word from the text. The glossary engages readers and is repeated at the end of the text with the words defined and used in sentences. Comprehension and critical thinking questions and an index round out the back matter. Children of different skin tones populate each title. The background for each page is a color photograph related to the symbol, and one to two simple sentences are superimposed on it. A computer-generated car graphic appears intermittently throughout the series, perhaps to interest young readers. Some may find the car’s presence confusing since it shows up in odd places a few times. ­ VERDICT A fine introduction to U.S. landmarks and nonfiction for the youngest of readers.

 

UPPER ELEMENTARY TO MIDDLE SCHOOL

Anderson, Corey. Hola, Venezuela. ISBN 9781534148093.
––––. Kumusta, Philippines. ISBN 9781534148055.
––––. Namaste, India. ISBN 9781534148079.
––––. Ola, Brazil. ISBN 9781534148031.
Kaminski, Leah. Assalam-o-Alaikum, Pakistan. ISBN 9781534148109.
––––. Hola, Mexico. ISBN 9781534148048.
––––. Konnichiwa, Japan. ISBN 9781534148062.
––––. Ni Hao, China. ISBN 9781534148086.
ea vol: 48p. (Countries of the World). glossary. index. photos. Cherry Lake. Aug. 2019. lib. ed. $37.07.
Gr 4-8 –The journey through each country begins with a look at a color map of that country and its neighbors. Captioned color photographs abound, allowing readers to visualize the information presented in the text. Each title has facts about the country’s flora and fauna and its current political and economic system. A recipe, a language activity, and a discussion of representative holidays are also included. The further learning section is a strength of this series as it contains books by award-winning authors. A few confusing captions weaken the titles, however, and while graphs are clear and relevant, no sources are given for the data. There is no bibliography in the back matter either. Photo credits are listed. VERDICT Unfortunately, the interesting and relevant content is greatly hindered by the typos and the lack of sources.

Banting, Erinn. Aconcagua. ISBN 9781791114121.
Daly, Ruth. Denali. ISBN 9781791114039.
Groskreutz, Rochelle. Elbrus. ISBN 9781791114077.
Lappi, Megan. Everest. ISBN 9781791114237.
Leavitt, Amie Jane. Vinson Massif. ISBN 9781791114190.
Orr, Tamra B. Carstensz Pyramid. ISBN 9781791114152.
Watson, Galadriel. Kilimanjaro. ISBN 9781791113995.
ea vol: 32p. (Seven Summits). chron. glossary. index. maps. photos. websites. Weigl/AV2 by Weigl. Aug. 2019. lib. ed. $29.99.
Gr 4-6 –Readers are invited to explore each of the seven summits through their locations, their history and geology, the people and wildlife living near them, and the explorers who’ve climbed them. Interspersed throughout the text are images (in color when available), ­relevant sidebars, a time line, and engagement activities like quizzes and critical thinking questions. When referencing explorers of the summits, the authors note that they were either the first Europeans or the first non-Indigenous people to see or climb the summit. The word Indigenous is not consistently capitalized, however, and no source notes are listed. VERDICT Typos and a printing error mar an otherwise strong series that has applications for both social studies and science.

Bennington, Clara. Buckingham Palace. ISBN 9781641288590.
––––. Dracula’s Castle. ISBN 9781641288613.
––––. Edinburgh Castle. ISBN 9781641288637.
––––. Forbidden City. ISBN 9781641288651.
––––. Grand Palace. ISBN 9781641288675.
––––. King Ludwig’s Castle. ISBN 9781641288699.
––––. Palace of Versailles. ISBN 9781641288712.
––––. Windsor Castle. ISBN 9781641288736.
ea vol: 24p. (Cool Castles and Palaces). glossary. index. photos. Jump!/Pogo Books. Aug. 2019. lib. ed. $26.99.
Gr 2-5 –Authors invite readers to embark on a tour of each castle or palace, with sentences like “Atop an extinct volcano in Edinburgh, Scotland, sits a fortress. It is more than 600 years old.” A table of contents, color photographs, sidebars, critical thinking questions, a location map, a layout of the castle or palace, basic facts about the structure, a glossary, and an index make up each title. No source notes or a recommended reading are included but the authors link instructions for how to access the publisher’s proprietary website, where readers can search and find resources related to each book’s content. VERDICT This is an inviting, Western-centered series that, despite some issues, gives readers a good overview and a critical look at the featured castles and palaces.

Braun, Eric. Could You Escape Alcatraz?: An Interactive Survival Adventure. ISBN 9781543573923.
Doeden, Matt. Could You Escape the Paris Catacombs?: An Interactive Survival Adventure. ISBN 9781543573947.
Hoena, Blake. Could You Escape a Deserted Island?: An Interactive Survival Adventure. ISBN 9781543573954.
––––. Could You Escape the Tower of London?: An Interactive Survival Adventure. ISBN 9781543573930.
ea vol: 112p. (You Choose: Can You Escape?). bibliog. further reading. glossary. index. photos. Capstone. Aug. 2019. lib. ed. $32.65.
Gr 3-7 –Whether they choose to dig a tunnel out of their jail cell or go on a rogue tour of the Catacombs, readers will delight in the many adventures they can have, all while painlessly learning history. Excellent photographs or paintings aid in placing readers within the environments. At least one of the stories (Could You Escape the Paris Catacombs?) has a didactic tone about following the rules for safety. A concluding chapter in each title presents facts about the places or situations featured. ­ VERDICT Attention-grabbing titles draw young minds in, and the well-written texts sustain their interest. A welcome addition to any library serving tween and teen patrons.

Brinded, Alex. Mapping Oceans. ISBN 9781534530256; ISBN 9781534531147.
––––. Mapping Physical Geography. ISBN 9781534530218; ISBN 9781534531109.
Duhig, Holly & Madeline Tyler. Mapping Towns and Cities. ISBN 9781534530201; ISBN 9781534531093.
Tyler, Madeline. Mapping Money and Trade. ISBN 9781534530232; ISBN 9781534531123.
––––. Mapping People. ISBN 9781534530225; ISBN 9781534531116.
Wood, John. Mapping the Weather. ISBN 9781534530249; ISBN 9781534531130.
ea vol: 32p. (Maps and Mapping). diag. glossary. index. maps. photos. Greenhaven/KidHaven. Aug. 2019. Tr. $27.25. pap. $10.50.
Gr 2-4 –Each title opens with an explanation of what maps are and the different types of maps that exist, including mind maps and family trees. Content specific to the featured topic is presented in a linear fashion, with foundational concepts covered first and more complex ideas presented later. Each page of text is broken up by relevant maps, illustrations, and sidebars. A few of the maps are grainy and hard to see, and while photo credits are listed on the CIP page, the maps aren’t consistently dated. Duplication of the images and content, particularly in relation to space travel and mapping, occurs with some titles, too. There are no source notes or recommended reading materials to lend credibility to the series, and since many statistics and interesting facts are included within each text, the authors missed an opportunity to further educate and engage their readers. VERDICT Poorly rendered graphics and a lack of sources detract from this series that clearly explains the concepts of maps and mapping.

Brown, Jennifer. China. ISBN 9781422242643.
––––. Vietnam. ISBN 9781422242728.
Daniels-Cowart, Catrina. Indonesia. ISBN 9781422242650.
––––. Japan. ISBN 9781422242667.
––––. Malaysia. ISBN 9781422242681.
––––. Philippines. ISBN 9781422242698.
––––. Singapore. ISBN 9781422242704.
––––. South Korea. ISBN 9781422242674.
––––. Thailand. ISBN 9781422242711.
ea vol: 96p. (Asian Countries Today). further reading. glossary. maps. photos. Mason Crest. Sept. 2019. lib. ed. $32.95.
Gr 2-5 –Inviting color photographs combined with facts about each country’s geography, history, people, and culture entice readers to travel to the featured Asian countries. The content within these titles is uneven, however. In general, it appears that the writers of the series assume that readers come from a Western background. Some statements are misleading, and at least one map that is designed to point to the featured country highlights the wrong one. Most images are captioned, yet a few do not correspond to the text on the page. No sources are listed in the back matter. While four or five current further reading titles are included in each book, all but a few are for adults. There is one common glossary for the entire series. Other universal elements include a list of facts about population, area, flag, and languages spoken; a time line; critical thinking questions; recipes; and organizations to contact for those interested in traveling to the country. VERDICT Pass on this series for its lack of source notes and its adult-oriented supplemental material.

Hudak, Heather C. Pathways Through Africa. ISBN 9780778765998; ISBN 9780778766445.
––––. Pathways Through South America. ISBN 9780778766438; ISBN 9780778766506.
Leclerc, Clare. Pathways Through Asia. ISBN 9780778766018; ISBN 9780778766469.
Miles, John. Pathways Through Antarctica. ISBN 9780778766001; ISBN 9780778766452.
––––. Pathways Through Europe. ISBN 9780778766353; ISBN 9780778766483.
Morganelli, Adrianna. Pathways Through Australia. ISBN 9780778766346; ISBN 9780778766476.
O’Brien, Cynthia. Pathways Through North America. ISBN 9780778766421; ISBN 9780778766490.
ea vol: 32p. (The Human Path Across the Continents). further reading. maps. photos. websites. Crabtree. Aug. 2019. lib. ed. $27.60. pap. $8.95.
Gr 4-6 –Within these compact, content-rich books, readers jaunt through towns and settlements on the seven continents, learning about the people, landscape, and commerce of each. Authors present each city or area in two to four pages, highlighting different modes of transportation along the way. Visuals, including color photographs, drawings, maps, and paintings, are captioned and supplement the text well. Indigenous populations are respectfully acknowledged, and the word Indigenous is capitalized in each relevant title. Thoughtful reflection questions are included throughout; however, a few times the placement of the questions precede content related to them. Each title is well organized, and the back matter lists recommended titles, often from the publisher, and websites appropriate for young people. No sources or bibliography are provided. VERDICT Despite the assumption that most readers live in the northern hemisphere, these titles contain relevant information and are useful for most libraries.

Huddleston, Emma. Exploring Ellis Island. ISBN 9781641857826.
––––. Exploring Independence Hall. ISBN 9781641857840.
––––. Exploring Kennedy Space Center. ISBN 9781641857857.
––––. Exploring the Gateway Arch. ISBN 9781641857864.
––––. Exploring the San Antonio River Walk. ISBN 9781641857871.
Yasuda, Anita. Exploring Hoover Dam. ISBN 9781641857833.
ea vol: 32p. (Travel America’s Landmarks). further reading. glossary. index. maps. North Star Editions/Focus Readers. Aug. 2019. lib. ed. $28.50.
Gr 3-5 –Each title includes information about the landmark’s location, visiting the landmark, and a unique facet of the landmark. Prior to the back matter, readers can take a short quiz, which tests comprehension and vocabulary knowledge. Photographs along with paintings help transport readers to each location and provide visual support to the text. The images aren’t consistently captioned, however. Maps of the landmark and surrounding sites of interest are clearly labeled. Some of the text in Independence Hall idealizes the founding fathers, ignoring the means by which they sought “freedom and democracy” at the expense of marginalized peoples, and Native Americans aren’t mentioned often or at all in any title. The back matter lists three recommended titles and a proprietary teacher website that contains lesson plans, content-related websites, and a quiz. VERDICT While most of the content is presented well, idealized portions affect the series’ usefulness.


All of these series allow readers to explore beyond familiar surroundings, immersing them in the environment with their descriptive texts, profiles of people, and the inclusion of recipes. As engaging and informative as many of the season’s titles are, some lack clarity in the text or in how research is documented, and that detracts from the reading and learning experience. The series that stands out shows respect both for readers’ interests and for scholarship. The authors of “You Choose” (Capstone) initially intrigue with the subject matter, and then they deliver engrossing texts, with historical and geographical facts interwoven well, allowing readers to choose their own adventure within realistic boundaries.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


RELATED 

ALREADY A SUBSCRIBER?