Here, There, and Everywhere: Around the World in Books | Geography Series Nonfiction

This spring, students need only pack their curiosity and imaginations to travel—no tickets or suitcases required!

This spring, students need only pack their curiosity and imaginations to travel—no tickets or suitcases required! Who doesn’t want to visit interesting, exciting, and fun places, especially when it doesn’t involve leaving the comfort of home or school, and a favorite, comfortable seat? All students will need is a desire to explore new locales, a sense of adventure, and an open-minded willingness to encounter new ideas and new people via the pages of books—and they’ll be set! Publishers will be satisfying all those conditions via great, new series in which students will journey to terrific cities and other fascinating places the world over—locations students may have only dreamed of, but which they’ll easily visit in books—and to which they’ll want to return repeatedly. Traveling has never been so simple or enjoyable. All it takes are great new series.



Barnes, Rachael. The Dominican Republic. ISBN 9798886871289.
––––. Germany. ISBN 9798886871302.
––––. Guatemala. ISBN 9798886871319.
––––. Israel. ISBN 9798886871333.
Davies, Monika. Egypt. ISBN 9798886871296.
––––. Ireland. ISBN 9798886871326.
––––. Kenya. ISBN 9798886871340.
––––. Vietnam. ISBN 9798886871357.
ea vol: 24p. (Countries of the World). Bellwether/Blastoff! Readers. Jan. 2023. Tr. $26.95.
Gr 2-4 –This very easy series, featuring a few compact sentences per page and aimed at young students just starting to learn about the world, provides basic information, though probably not enough for rudimentary reports. However, students will get a glimpse of nations across the globe. Commendably, the volumes foster positive perspectives of the countries and develop respectful “they’re like me” viewpoints. Titles provide strong visual support, with high-quality, color (usually captioned) photos on every page, featuring landscapes, national foods, animals, and people—frequently portraying children and families (often intergenerational), looking directly at readers and engaging in relatable activities. Main topics covered are: “All About” the featured country; “Land and Animals” (geography, weather, native wildlife-with pictorial chart); and “Life in...” (residences/where citizens live, language(s) spoken, ancestry, religions(s), sports/recreational activities, foods-pictured, festivals/holidays, customs). New vocabulary is in bold and defined in the glossary (no pronunciation guidance); some unfamiliar words are defined through text or photos. Each book teaches how to say and pronounce “hello” in the nation’s language. The series is visually striking, with colorful covers and text printed against yellow, orange, or green backgrounds. Volumes include maps depicting nations’ exact locations and relative positions in the world. Sidebars provide helpful additional information. Besides the glossary, To Learn More (a bibliography of books and the publisher’s website), and an index, useful back matter material includes a country facts chart with information such as the country’s current census data, national holiday, national language, capital city, a notable citizen, and national flag; other charts depict the nation’s major religions, noting percentages of practitioners, and some major landmarks. VERDICT Recommended for school and public collections. Encourage students to practice saying “hello” in the different languages and/or to create the national flags to display in classrooms/libraries.

Earley, Christina. Alabama. ISBN 9781039802384.
––––. Alaska. ISBN 9781039802391.
––––. Arizona. ISBN 9781039802407.
––––. Arkansas. ISBN 9781039802414.
––––. California. ISBN 9781039696563.
––––. Colorado. ISBN 9781039802421.
––––. Connecticut. ISBN 9781039802438.
––––. Delaware. ISBN 9781039802445.
––––. Florida. ISBN 9781039696525.
––––. Georgia. ISBN 9781039696532.
––––. Hawaii. ISBN 9781039802452.
––––. Idaho. ISBN 9781039802469.
––––. Illinois. ISBN 9781039696570.
––––. Indiana. ISBN 9781039802476.
––––. Massachusetts. ISBN 9781039696594.
––––. New York. ISBN 9781039696587.
––––. North Carolina. ISBN 9781039696549.
––––. Ohio. ISBN 9781039696617.
––––. Pennsylvania. ISBN 9781039696600.
––––. Texas. ISBN 9781039696556.
ea vol: 24p. (My State). Crabtree/Seedlings. Jan. 2023. Tr. $27.93.
Gr 2-4 –A cleverly organized compendium of state facts for young students! This series’ unique photo album–like design promotes quick reading (one-to-two simple sentences per page) yet encourages students to pore over high-quality color photos of great places to explore in 20 U.S. states—while being “hosted” in each book by a boy or girl cartoon figure, a state native. There is diversity among the figures, including children of color, a girl in a wheelchair, and a boy with a hearing aid. In each volume, the “tour guide” welcomes students to the state and, in first person, proudly shows off significant sites to see and fun things to do there. This child, superimposed atop photographic backgrounds, appears frequently throughout and recounts “personal experiences” visiting fascinating places. Some graphics resemble actual photographs and carry “Fun Fact” captions. Additionally, each volume includes a U.S. map on which the state and capital city are color-highlighted. The state’s special symbols, such as animals, flowers, birds, flags, or insects or fish, are identified, as are important crops, resources, sports teams, the largest city, and notable people born there. The clever design not only increases reading speed but also piques interest: As students turn the “album” pages, they acquire and learn interesting facts. New vocabulary is set in bold black and defined in a picture glossary, with pronunciation guides; the back matter also includes an index. A “School-to-Home Support for Caregivers and Teachers” page precedes the text in each volume and presents “guiding questions to help readers develop their comprehension skills.” Questions to be asked before, during, and after reading are included, with possible answers provided. VERDICT Highly recommended for public and school libraries. Ask students which states or places they would like to visit and why.

Upper Elementary to Middle School

Barrow, Johanna. Greece. ISBN 9781502667205.
Collins, Anna. India. ISBN 9781502667083.
Lombardo, Jennifer. United States. ISBN 9781502667144.
Reynolds, Donna. Dominican Republic. ISBN 9781502667175.
––––. Nigeria. ISBN 9781502667236.
Washburne, Sophie. Mexico. ISBN 9781502667113.
ea vol: 32p. (Exploring World Cultures, Second Edition). Cavendish Square. Dec. 2022. Tr. $31.64.
Gr 4-6 –This series provides the simplified, generalized information students need to prepare basic overview country reports. The prose flows easily, with readable, short, flowing sentences. Topics include geography; history (“BC,” “BCE,” and “CE” are defined); government; the economy; the environment; the people today; lifestyle; religion; language; arts and festivals; fun and play; and food ­(photos of popular dishes included). Volumes open with brief introductions to the countries; new vocabulary words are boldfaced and defined in the glossary with pronunciation guidance there or in the text. Some laudable aspects of the nations are noted, as are contributions of Indigenous peoples. The U.S. title displays racial/ethnic diversity. Where applicable, volumes discuss problems, including poverty, pollution, prejudice, homelessness, inequality issues, ­domestic violence, and lack of access to basic amenities; attempts to improve these conditions are also mentioned. Some volumes ­discuss ways in which certain countries are unique in some respects; e.g., India is the only nation where both lions and tigers live in the wild. High-quality color photos with captions provide strong visual support. ­Numerous blue circular “Fact!” sidebars, plus additional white sidebars, provide useful extra information. Helpful color maps display each country’s exact location and surroundings. Besides the glossary, back matter ­includes “Find Out More” (a bibliography with two books, a website, and a video) and an index. The “Fun and Play” section of the U.S. volume includes this statement: “One very American activity is gun collecting.” However, it also mentions that “many ­Americans believe there should be stronger laws about who can have and use a gun.” Note that the overly generalized tone of this title oddly makes it seem ­directed at ­non-American readers. VERDICT ­Recommended as a limited purchase for school and public collections.

Buckley Jr., James. Super Parks! Yosemite National Park. ISBN 9781467198967.
Griffin, Donna. Super Cities! Indianapolis. ISBN 9781467198943.
MacMillan, Kathy. Super Cities! Baltimore. ISBN 9781467198981.
Sepahban, Lois. Super Cities! Louisville. ISBN 9781467198950.
Walker, Daralynn. Super Cities! Detroit. ISBN 9781467198974.
ea vol: 96p. (Super Cities). Arcadia. Feb. 2023. pap. $14.99.
Gr 4-6 –Respect to this series that dubs as “super” four dynamic midsized U.S. cities that often get lost in the wake of huge American metropolises. This series proves the title cities can hold their own by cramming their volumes with fascinating, everything-you-ever-needed-to-know-and-more facts—and then some. One might wonder why a national park is included. However, Yosemite is so vast; self-contained; has so much to experience, see, and do; is so popular and frequently visited that, after reading about it, students will understand why it’s called a “city.” Each volume opens with a welcome and a “Fast Facts” sidebar, anticipating what’s to come. After that come maps and a “Map It!” feature. There’s so much more: The state nickname, origin of state and capital-city name; places to explore; history (including Indigenous peoples, path to statehood, and geology); notable citizens, including Indigenous peoples and people of color; houses of worship; museums/schools/universities; weather/seasonal conditions; and attractions/landmarks, things to see/do, where to eat/stay, etc. Volumes address unsavory facts honestly, including slavery and civil rights struggles; for example, Indianapolis candidly discusses the KKK’s rise in that city. Other items of interest include regional slang, popular foods, haunted sites, “Sister City” programs, and city “firsts.” The text moves quickly, courtesy of the breezy writing style presented in a conversational tone. Text appear in small paragraphs, set in colorful boxes. This is a very pictorial series, with many eye-catching display headings and appealing full-color photos, illustrations, cartoons, etc., featuring natural wonders, landmarks, wildlife, etc., all with explanatory captions. Racial diversity is well represented. “Fast Fact” sidebars are shaped like maroon “speech balloons.” Back matter includes “Find Out More” (a bibliography of books and websites) and an index. VERDICT Highly recommended for public and school libraries. Ask students where they would like to visit and why.

Golkar, Golriz. Slovenia. ISBN 9798886871487.
––––. Taiwan. ISBN 9798886871494.
––––. Tanzania. ISBN 9798886871500.
Klepeis, Alicia Z. Bolivia. ISBN 9798886871463.
––––. Finland. ISBN 9798886871470.
––––. United Arab Emirates. ISBN 9798886871517.
ea vol: 32p. (Country Profiles). Bellwether/Blastoff! Discovery. Jan. 2023. Tr. $27.95.
Gr 4-6 –This series is notable for including countries that are not often covered. The texts provide students with the necessary information to create thorough overviews that can help instill appreciation and fascination for these nations. The sentences are short and simple, making them easier to read and suitable for less experienced readers. New vocabulary is marked and explained in the glossary. Each volume begins with a story about a family or travelers visiting a famous city or landmark. Chapters then cover topics like landscape, climate, wildlife, people, communities, education, work, recreation, food, and celebrations, with each topic accompanied by color photos. Additionally, a native animal is featured with a map displaying its range, and yellow sidebars offer interesting extra facts. The books also include how to say and pronounce six words in the native language, instructions for a game or toy, a recipe, a glossary, a time line, country facts, a bibliography, and an index. ­ VERDICT Recommended for school and public libraries. This series encourages students to practice new international vocabularies with each other, play games, make toys, or prepare recipes from the series (at home, with adult guidance/permission), and compare and contrast them with familiar ones.

Howell, Izzi. Norrie Explores… Beijing. illus. by Jon Davis. ISBN 9780716653042.
––––. Norrie Explores… Buenos Aires. illus. by Lizzie Walkley. ISBN 9780716653059.
––––. Norrie Explores… Cape Town. illus. by Jon Davis. ISBN 9780716653066.
––––. Norrie Explores… London. illus. by Lizzie Walkley. ISBN 9780716653080.
––––. Norrie Explores… Rome. illus. by Jon Davis. ISBN 9780716653103.
––––. Norrie Explores… Shanghai. illus. by Lizzie Walkley. ISBN 9780716653110.
––––. Norrie Explores… Sydney. illus. by Jon Davis. ISBN 9780716653127.
––––. Norrie Explores… Vancouver. illus. by Lizzie Walkley. ISBN 9780716653134.
King, Madeline. Norrie Explores… Chicago. illus. by Mike Garton. ISBN 9780716653073.
––––. Norrie Explores… New York. illus. by Mike Garton. ISBN 9780716653097.
ea vol: 56p. (Norrie Explores...). World Book. Feb. 2023. Tr. $229.
Gr 4-6 –Norrie, a chatty cartoon puffin, gives whirlwind tours of 10 fascinating cities. In all locations, Norrie’s image is superimposed against colorful, eye-catching photos of renowned landmarks, gorgeous landscapes, and exciting sites; these aren’t captioned because Norrie’s comments explain everything. His informative insights are delivered via ­numerous speech balloons and also set against colorful backgrounds. Often, Norrie provides aerial views—as a bird and as a prop-plane pilot. He frequently wears costumes to participate in activities or poses in group-photo shots, all the while discoursing on history (citing Indigenous groups, where applicable), statistics, populations, religions, modes of transport, what’s important/special, activities one can do, and more. Moving briskly, Norrie tours historic buildings, restaurants, theaters, parks, sports arenas, ­gardens, zoos, museums, distinctive neighborhoods/streets, etc. Some sites are more student-appealing than others. Each volume involves a “mystery” or hunt, a clumsy organizational contrivance that explains why/how Norrie travels from one site to the next on the tour. Often, there’s no mystery because Norrie displays a word/picture clue as he goes, then follows it to the conclusion. As series volumes proceed, this formula works more smoothly/logically; it’s clumsiest in ­Beijing. Besides the glossary (with pronunciation guides) and index, back matter items for students include a picture map of sites visited; “A Day in...” the city, a photo summary; a “Where Am I?” quiz; and “Photos from...” the city. Some back matter material is targeted directly at teachers/caregivers, making this series a strange mix of breezy student guide and textbook: “Engage Your Reader,” “­Extend Through Writing,” and comprehension questions and answers. Another quibble: Why feature a childish ­cartoon as a tour guide in each book, instead of images of children hailing from these ­cities, which would be more relatable and ­allow children of color to be represented? ­ VERDICT ­Nonessential; purchase for schools where needed.

Kingsley Troupe, Thomas. Apache. ISBN 9781638979890.
––––. Cherokee. ISBN 9781638979906.
––––. Cheyenne. ISBN 9781638979944.
––––. Navajo. ISBN 9781638979913.
––––. Seminole. ISBN 9781638979920.
––––. Sioux. ISBN 9781638979937.
ea vol: 32p. (Nations of North America). Seahorse/Lighthouse. Jan. 2023. Tr. $30.60.
Gr 3-5 –Six Nations that have had an indelible impact on U.S. history and geography receive their respective due in this informative, well-organized series. Basic topics are covered in each volume, and the meaning/origin of each Nation’s name is given. Sections include an Introduction; Homelands (how long the Nation has lived in North America; struggles to maintain their lands); Traditional Ways of Life (food, shelter, language, family, society); Traditional Creations (e.g., handicrafts, instruments, clothing, weapons); Leaders (historical notables’ dates/achievements, heroism/bravery), The People Today (Nations’ current U.S. populations, businesses, ways they honor heritage). The well-written series has flowing prose; brief sentences expedite the reading pace. The author’s viewpoint is sympathetic: The Nations’ harsh treatment by white settlers throughout their histories is treated candidly but not morbidly. The series is distinguished by its striking visual design: Each volume includes impressive color, black-and-white, and sepia historical photos, paintings, illustrations, and drawings that convey the Nations’ cultures and ways of life; all graphics include informative captions. Additionally, table of contents pages helpfully explain the historic cover photographs. Each volume includes a map showing the nation’s range. Sidebars and occasional charts provide additional information, including Native words, which don’t usually feature pronunciation guidance. A “Teaching Tips” page for caregivers and teachers precedes the main text in each book; caregivers are offered strategies to help students bolster reading skills; teachers are given questions for before, during, and after reading; sample answers are provided. Back matter includes a glossary (with pronunciation guides), index, and comprehension questions. VERDICT Recommended for schools and public libraries. This fine introductory series for younger students and striving readers contains a solid overview of information for reports.


Upper Middle School to High School

Bolinder, Mary Kate. North America. ISBN 9781087695099.
––––. Rain Forests Around the World. ISBN 9781087695204.
Davies, Monika. Asia. ISBN 9781087695174.
––––. Southeast Asia. ISBN 9781087695181.
Driggs, Lorin. Landmarks of the World. ISBN 9781087695235.
Levsey, Dylan. South America. ISBN 9781087695112.
Maharajh, Jennifer. The Suez Canal and Other Global Trade Routes. ISBN 9781087695242.
Melendez, Alyxx. Central America. ISBN 9781087695105.
Nussbaum, Ben. North Africa. ISBN 9781087695167.
––––. West Africa. ISBN 9781087695150.
Prior, Jennifer. Eastern Europe. ISBN 9781087695136.
––––. Oceania. ISBN 9781087695198.
––––. The Polar Regions. ISBN 9781087695211.
––––. Western Europe. ISBN 9781087695129.
Scott, David. Governments Around the World. ISBN 9781087695228.
––––. The Middle East. ISBN 9781087695143.
ea vol: 32p. (Social Studies: Explore the World). Teacher Created Materials. Mar. 2023. Tr. $11.99.
Gr 7 Up –This fact-filled series focused primarily on continents or regions of them, allows students to accomplish what the title suggests. The broad topics of geography, history, economics, and government are covered, though chapter titles and the order in which these subjects occur throughout the series vary. The fact that chapters about these topics are differently titled, organized, and appear in different order in the continent/region volumes reflects the diversity among world nations and the way citizens live there—a point made throughout. Indigenous people’s contributions/influences are emphasized in history sections and in those about present-day life. The series is candid about some nations’ problems but leaves readers hopeful about governments’ and citizens’ attempts to solve them, so students can feel optimistic about the world they’re growing up in. The slim volumes read easily, with short, choppy sentences and simple vocabulary; younger, more able students and striving readers should navigate these books confidently. New vocabulary is boldfaced and defined in the glossary (no pronunciation guides). The attractive volumes are highly pictorial, featuring color maps and numerous color and black-and-white ­photos, illustrations, paintings, etc., mostly captioned, depicting wildlife; landscapes; landmarks; industries; homes; foods; recreational activities; citizens working, learning, and engaging in festive and civic activities; and more. Many informative sidebars highlight and elaborate on topics. Besides the glossary and index in each volume—there are no bibliographies—back matter material includes a “Map It!” activity based on a book’s topic; “Learn More,” sometimes difficult or complicated activities focused on a book’s subject; and “Read and Respond,” a reading-comprehension exercise. VERDICT Recommended for school libraries; good overview titles for reports. Purchase individual titles as needed. Caveat: The Middle East might seem imbalanced, as it barely mentions Israel, Jerusalem, Judaism, or Christianity. Of special interest: Rainforests Around the World and Governments Around the World.


Early graders starting to learn about the world will enjoy the colorful “Countries of the World” (Bellwether/­Blastoff! Readers) and learn to say “hello” in eight languages. “Country Profiles” (Bellwether/Blastoff! Discovery) does a fine job familiarizing middle graders with nations not often written about, and instructs them in several aspects of national cultures. “ Social Studies: Explore the World” (Teacher Created Materials) is an ambitious, fact-packed, optimistic series for middle graders and middle schoolers. The photo album–like series for young students, “ My State” (Crabtree/Seedlings), will have kids exploring 20 states, gathering numerous insights, and being eager to visit those places. “Nations of North America” (Seahorse/Lighthouse) is a very fine, informative, and respectful series about six North American nations. The ­snappy, guide book–like “Super Cities!” (Arcadia) about five mid-sized U.S. cities and Yosemite National Park, is crammed with everything middle graders could ever possibly want to know about those places—and more.


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