In which Annie (high school teacher, mother of two young girls and a younger boy) and her aunt Deborah (children's bookseller, mother of two young women in their 20s) discuss children's books and come up with annotated lists.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Guest blog: Map books

Dear Aunt Debbie,

I have so much more to say on the little-people/dollhouse thread.  Here's my promise that I will go right back to it as soon as I get through my end-of-semester portfolios.

In the meantime, here's Holly, mother of Eleanor's good friend Ian, on one of their current preoccupations:

The other day in a local cafe Ian came across a Disney-fied Winnie the Pooh and immediately turned to me with the map asking where the Six Pine Trees were. Nowhere to be found.

We are always on the look out for books with maps. They tend to be adventure books, questing books, which is right on target for what Ian wants and what I’m happy to read to him. They make me think of Tolkien -- the first time I can remember really following characters along a journey by map, as if I were travelling along with them in a whole different world.

Ian’s first and favorite map books were My Father’s Dragon, Elmer and the Dragon and The Dragons of Blueland (collected in one volume as Three Tales of My Father's Dragon), by Ruth Stiles Gannett. The maps are very personal: “my father doesn’t know what’s on this side of the island,” “clump of tall grass where my father slept and left more tangerine peels.” It makes you want to make a map of your own life and explorations. Ian loved to follow the story as Elmer journeyed through Wild Island from animal to animal, wondering where he would go next. 

I couldn’t resist buying Into the Unknown: How Great Explorers Found Their Way by Land, Sea, and Air, by Stewart Ross, illustrated by Stephen Biesty. It’s a terrific book with pull out maps and descriptions of the journeys of explorers like Marco Polo, Cook, Livingstone, Zheng He, Hillary, and even, yes, Buzz, Michael and Neil’s journey to the moon. It’s still on a high shelf waiting for the right moment, but I’ve been enjoying it myself.

Something for us to look forward to, too!  Thank you, Holly.

Love, Annie

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