It’s a Big Place: Geography | Series Nonfiction

From U.S. states to international cuisines, kids and teens are in for a real trip around the world in this fall’s lineup. Multiple series on how to use and read maps are timely and add depth to geography lessons.

1611-sms-geographyOne focus of geography is “place,” which refers to the physical and human characteristics of a location. Some sets look at our planet and describe the diverse topographical and cultural landscapes that it sustains. Others visit regions, states, and even individual homes to examine how local physical geography, economic activity, and cultural traditions have an outsize effect on the lives of the people. Geography helps students understand that our world is big in both size and complexity.


Bailey, R.J. Alamo. ISBN 9781620313473; ISBN 9781624963940.

––––. Ellis Island. ISBN 9781620313480; ISBN 9781624963957.

––––. Liberty Bell. ISBN 9781620313497; ISBN 9781624963964.

––––. Mount Rushmore. ISBN 9781620313503; ISBN 9781624963971.

––––. Statue of Liberty. ISBN 9781620313510; ISBN 9781624963988.

––––. White House. ISBN 9781620313527; ISBN 9781624963995.

ea vol: 24p. (Hello, America!). diag. glossary. index. photos. websites. Jump!/Bullfrog. Aug. 2016. lib. ed. $25.65. ebk. $17.95.

K-Gr 2 –These volumes take readers on visits to iconic U.S. monuments. The text is a mix of declaratory sentences and thought-provoking questions, which are conveniently answered on the pages where they are asked. The colorful photos reveal interesting aspects of the buildings or monuments and the diverse groups of visitors, especially children, who flock to see them. White House has photos of President Obama on every spread, which with the upcoming election will date the title rather quickly. Books conclude with either a labeled photograph of the topic (the different parts of the Liberty Bell) or “A Day At,” which highlights key areas to visit at each location (the Ellis Island National Immigration Museum). Suitable for independent reading or reading aloud, these titles are a good introduction to significant places of U.S. heritage and history. VERDICT Recommended for all elementary school collections.

Bailey, R.J. Meals in China. ISBN 9781620313718; ISBN 9781624964183.

––––. Meals in Germany. ISBN 9781620313725; ISBN 9781624964190.

––––. Meals in Russia. ISBN 9781620313763; ISBN 9781624964237.

––––. Meals in Vietnam. ISBN 9781620313787; ISBN 9781624964251.

Meister, Cari. Meals in India. ISBN 9781620313732; ISBN 9781624964206.

––––. Meals in Mexico. ISBN 9781620313749; ISBN 9781624964213.

––––. Meals in Nigeria. ISBN 9781620313756; ISBN 9781624964220.

––––. Meals in Turkey. ISBN 9781620313770; ISBN 9781624964244.

ea vol: 24p. (Meals Around the World). glossary. index. photos. websites. Jump!/Bullfrog. Aug. 2016. lib. ed. $25.65. ebk. $17.95.

K-Gr 2 –With a focus on everyday foods, these books shed light on what students from around the world eat at home and school. Adorable children are shown helping family members prepare meals that are closely associated with their country and culture. Spreads consist of large color photos of kids with food or close-ups of dishes along with a few sentences that describe ingredients and explain how they are eaten, supplemented by comments such as “good,” “yummy,” or “spicy.” Photos are bright and attractive, but food preparation images are often set in kitchens so generic that they could be found almost anywhere, which lessens the overall sense of authenticity. VERDICT A secondary choice for introduction to world cultures through food.

Kirchner, Jason. Alabama. ISBN 9781 515703860.

––––. Alaska. ISBN 9781515703877.

––––. Arizona. ISBN 9781515703891.

––––. Arkansas. ISBN 9781515703907.

––––. California. ISBN 9781515703914.

––––. Colorado. ISBN 9781515703921.

––––. Connecticut. ISBN 9781515703938.

––––. Delaware. ISBN 9781515703945.

––––. Florida. ISBN 9781515703952.

––––. Georgia. ISBN 9781515703969.

Maine, Tyler. New Mexico. ISBN 9781 515704188.

––––. New York. ISBN 9781515704195.

––––. North Carolina. ISBN 9781515704201.

––––. North Dakota. ISBN 9781515704218.

––––. Ohio. ISBN 9781515704225.

––––. Oklahoma. ISBN 9781515704232.

––––. Oregon. ISBN 9781515704249.

––––. Pennsylvania. ISBN 9781515704256.

––––. Puerto Rico. ISBN 9781515704263.

––––. Rhode Island. ISBN 9781515704270.

Mills, Jordan. Massachusetts. ISBN 9781 515704089.

––––. Michigan. ISBN 9781515704096.

––––. Minnesota. ISBN 9781515704102.

––––. Mississippi. ISBN 9781515704119.

––––. Missouri. ISBN 9781515704126.

––––. Montana. ISBN 9781515704133.

––––. Nebraska. ISBN 9781515704140.

––––. Nevada. ISBN 9781515704157.

––––. New Hampshire. ISBN 9781515704164.

––––. New Jersey. ISBN 9781515704171.

Parker, Bridget. South Carolina. ISBN 9781 515704287.

––––. South Dakota. ISBN 9781515704294.

––––. Tennessee. ISBN 9781515704300.

––––. Texas. ISBN 9781515704317.

––––. Utah. ISBN 9781515704324.

––––. Vermont. ISBN 9781515704331.

––––. Virginia. ISBN 9781515704348.

––––. Washington. ISBN 9781515704355.

––––. Washington, DC. ISBN 9781515704362.

––––. West Virginia. ISBN 9781515704379.

––––. Wisconsin. ISBN 9781515704386.

––––. Wyoming. ISBN 9781515704393.

Swanson, Angie. Hawaii. ISBN 9781 515703976.

––––. Idaho. ISBN 9781515703983.

––––. Illinois. ISBN 9781515703990.

––––. Indiana. ISBN 9781515704010.

––––. Iowa. ISBN 9781515704027.

––––. Kansas. ISBN 9781515704034.

––––. Kentucky. ISBN 9781515704041.

––––. Louisiana. ISBN 9781515704058.

––––. Maine. ISBN 9781515704065.

––––. Maryland. ISBN 9781515704072.

ea vol: 32p. (States). chart. chron. further reading. glossary. index. maps. photos. websites. Capstone. Aug. 2016. lib. ed. $20.49.

Gr 4-6 –Attractive, full-page photos of each state’s most famous and intriguing places are this series’s best feature. In a uniform format, the books provide introductory and basic report material. Most topics are covered in a single page, sometimes in a single paragraph. Lengthy photo captions have enough information to supplement the main text. Extras include images of state symbols, physical and political maps, population and climate graphs, short bios of famous people, and a “Fast Facts” section. While the set overall doesn’t have much depth or a fresh perspective, it does introduce the landmarks and cultural characteristics that most represent each state’s heritage. VERDICT Strong supplemental purchases.

Micklos, John, Jr. People and Places of the Northeast. ISBN 9781515724445; ISBN 9781515724490.

––––. People and Places of the Southeast. ISBN 9781515724438; ISBN 9781515724483.

Radomski, Kassandra. People and Places of the Midwest. ISBN 9781515724407; ISBN 9781515724452.

Smith-Llera, Danielle. People and Places of the Southwest. ISBN 9781515724421; ISBN 9781515724476.

––––. People and Places of the West. ISBN 9781515724414; ISBN 9781515724469.

ea vol: 32p. (United States by Region). chart. further reading. glossary. index. maps. photos. websites. Capstone. Aug. 2016. lib. ed. $20.49. pap. $7.95.

Gr 3-6 –An exploration of the diverse populations, cultures, and geographic features of different regions in the United States. Chapters discuss each site’s early history and population growth (including information on displaced Native American populations), land and climate, economy, and culture. The text tends to be dry and is limited more to a listing of places, landforms, economic facts, and inhabitants rather than a cohesive narrative. Many of the illustrations are pretty but generic location shots. The only map is a very simple political map of the region’s states that doesn’t depict most of the locales mentioned in the text, which is a major flaw. VERDICT This series merely skims the surface of the role of geography in our lives; at most an additional purchase.

Middle to High School

Brooks, Susie. Brazil. ISBN 9781482451177; ISBN 9781482451153; ISBN 9781 482452068.

––––. India. ISBN 9781482451092; ISBN 9781482451078; ISBN 9781482451108.

––––. Japan. ISBN 9781482451054; ISBN 9781482451030; ISBN 9781482451061.

Ganeri, Anita. China. ISBN 9781482451139; ISBN 9781482451115; ISBN 9781482451146.

Senker, Cath. Mexico. ISBN 9781 482451016; ISBN 9781482450996; ISBN 9781482451023.

––––. Russia. ISBN 9781482450972; ISBN 9781482450958; ISBN 9781482450989.

ea vol: 48p. (The Land and the People). further reading. glossary. index. maps. photos. websites. Gareth Stevens. Aug. 2016. lib. ed. $31.95. pap. $14.05. ebk. $31.95.

Gr 5-8 –Pages crowded with short paragraphs, background photos, photo boxes, and sidebars take readers on “whistle-stop” country tours. The books open with an almost featureless country map and continue on to the tour “stops” that highlight the nation’s topographical features, unique animals, population groups, etc. Coverage is generally positive about the nations and their people, but there are mentions of issues such as societal inequality and environmental degradation. There are some Briticisms, such as the word petrol in Brazil and a contextless discussion of cricket in India. While visually attractive, most spreads have as many as eight different text and photo features and are so busy that readers are likely to encounter difficulty following the information. No topic receives more than a short explanation, limiting report use. VERDICT No improvement on extant country sets.

Hamilton, John. Alabama. ISBN 9781 680783032.

––––. Alaska. ISBN 9781680783049.

––––. Arizona. ISBN 9781680783056.

––––. Arkansas. ISBN 9781680783063.

––––. California. ISBN 9781680783070.

––––. Colorado. ISBN 9781680783087.

––––. Connecticut. ISBN 9781680783094.

––––. Delaware. ISBN 9781680783100.

––––. Florida. ISBN 9781680783117.

––––. Georgia. ISBN 9781680783124.

––––. Hawaii. ISBN 9781680783131.

––––. Idaho. ISBN 9781680783148.

––––. Illinois. ISBN 9781680783155.

––––. Indiana. ISBN 9781680783162.

––––. Iowa. ISBN 9781680783179.

––––. Kansas. ISBN 9781680783186.

––––. Kentucky. ISBN 9781680783193.

––––. Louisiana. ISBN 9781680783209.

––––. Maine. ISBN 9781680783216.

––––. Maryland. ISBN 9781680783223.

––––. Massachusetts. ISBN 9781680783230.

––––. Michigan. ISBN 9781680783247.

––––. Minnesota. ISBN 9781680783254.

––––. Mississippi. ISBN 9781680783261.

––––. Missouri. ISBN 9781680783278.

––––. Montana. ISBN 9781680783285.

––––. Nebraska. ISBN 9781680783292.

––––. Nevada. ISBN 9781680783308.

––––. New Carolina. ISBN 9781680783353.

––––. New Dakota. ISBN 9781680783360.

––––. New Hampshire. ISBN 9781680783315.

––––. New Jersey. ISBN 9781680783322.

––––. New Mexico. ISBN 9781680783339.

––––. New York. ISBN 9781680783346.

––––. Ohio. ISBN 9781680783377.

––––. Oklahoma. ISBN 9781680783384.

––––. Oregon. ISBN 9781680783391.

––––. Pennsylvania. ISBN 9781680783407.

––––. Puerto Rico. ISBN 9781680783414.

––––. Rhode Island. ISBN 9781680783421.

––––. South Carolina. ISBN 9781680783438.

––––. South Dakota. ISBN 9781680783445.

––––. Tennessee. ISBN 9781680783452.

––––. Texas. ISBN 9781680783469.

––––. Utah. ISBN 9781680783476.

––––. Vermont. ISBN 9781680783483.

––––. Virginia. ISBN 9781680783490.

––––. Washington. ISBN 9781680783506.

––––. Washington, DC. ISBN 9781680783513.

––––. West Virginia. ISBN 9781680783520.

––––. Wisconsin. ISBN 9781680783537.

––––. Wyoming. ISBN 9781680783544.

ea vol: 48p. (The United States of America). chron. ebook available. glossary. index. maps. photos. ABDO. Aug. 2016. lib. ed. $21.65.

Gr 4-7 –This well-written and appealing series is chock-full of information about each state’s physical geography, climate, noteworthy plants and animals, history, people, cities, resources, economy and industries, and sports and entertainment. The coverage is up-to-date and expansive, most notably in the history, industry, and economic sections. “Quick Facts,” “People,” and “Did You Know?” chapters provide details about interesting places and famous residents with current examples, including some from contemporary popular culture. High quality photos, illustrations, and maps are strong points. These expansive selections will support in-depth reports and help readers learn what makes each state a unique and special place. VERDICT Primary purchases for geography collections.

Hirsch, Rebecca E. Using Climate Maps. ISBN 9781512409505.

––––. Using Physical Maps. ISBN 9781512409499.

––––. Using Political Maps. ISBN 9781512409475.

Maurer, Tracy Nelson. Using Economic and Resource Maps. ISBN 9781512409512.

––––. Using Road Maps and GPS. ISBN 9781512409529.

––––. Using Topographic Maps. ISBN 9781512409482.

ea vol: 40p. (Searchlight Books: What Do You Know about Maps?). ebook available. further reading. glossary. index. maps. photos. websites. Lerner. Sept. 2016. lib. ed. $30.65.

Gr 4-7 –These volumes introduce readers to the wonder and value of maps. Their strongest elements are the well-chosen examples of different types of maps found in each. Each book defines a map type; summarizes its developmental history; discusses basic cartographic terms, such as scale, legend, and compass roses; and explains how it depicts important data with real-world applications. Chapters combine clear prose and examples on almost every page to describe and illustrate cartographic and informational concepts. A concluding “Are You a Whiz at…?” activity requires readers to use maps to complete several steps in order to plan a trip or adventure. Appealing photos of people and places are a plus. VERDICT A recommended series to help students appreciate the language and importance of maps.

Richards, Jon & Ed Simkins. Art, Culture, and Sports. ISBN 9780778726555; ISBN 9780778726593; ISBN 9781427117953.

––––. The Human-Made World. ISBN 9780778726579; ISBN 9780778726616; ISBN 9781427117977.

––––. The Natural World. ISBN 9780778726586; ISBN 9780778726623; ISBN 9781427117984.

––––. People on Earth. ISBN 9780778726562; ISBN 9780778726609; ISBN 9781427117960.

ea vol: 32p. (Mapographica: Your World in Infographics). chart. diag. glossary. illus. index. maps. photos. Crabtree. Aug. 2016. lib. ed. $27.60. pap. $8.95. ebk. $41.40.

Gr 6-8 –Infographics such as charts, graphs, lists, and other symbolic representations are superimposed on world maps to depict the physical world and the many ways that humans inhabit and have changed it. Using current statistical information, the books have 13 spreads that illustrate various geographic concepts about landforms and natural resources, production and consumption of goods, populations, societal and technological advances, educational levels, and cultural and entertainment trends. Maps and graphics are well designed with clear legends and keys. Text is limited to brief introductory paragraphs and photo captions. An opening “World in 100 People” circle graph highlights trends based upon total world percentages, and a closing “Mapping the World” page defines map types. This innovative format clearly illustrates geographic models and the vast diversity of the physical, cultural, and economic environments around the world. VERDICT Good supplemental choices.

Rockett, Paul. Mapping Africa. ISBN 9780778726128; ISBN 9780778726180; ISBN 9781427117793.

––––. Mapping Asia. ISBN 9780778726135; ISBN 9780778726197; ISBN 9781427117809.

––––. Mapping Australia and Oceania, and Antarctica. ISBN 9780778726142; ISBN 9780778726203; ISBN 9781427117816.

––––. Mapping Europe. ISBN 9780778726159; ISBN 9780778726210; ISBN 9781427117823.

––––. Mapping North America. ISBN 9780778726166; ISBN 9780778726227; ISBN 9781427117830.

––––. Mapping South America. ISBN 9780778726173; ISBN 9780778726234; ISBN 9781427117847.

ea vol: illus. by Mark Ruffle. 32p. (Mapping the Continents). chart. glossary. index. maps. photos. Crabtree. Aug. 2016. lib. ed. $27.60. pap. $8.95. ebk. $41.40.

Gr 5-8 –These illustrated atlases use a variety of map types to depict each continent’s physical, natural, cultural, and economic geography. Books open with detailed location information, followed by a selection of physical, political, historical, climate, and other informational maps that feature human and animal populations, resources, land uses, and recreational and economic activity. Maps are supplemented with trivia about animals, places, and history. There are some small photos, but most of the images are whimsical drawings of places, people, animals, and phenomena like wind patterns. Many of the geographical concepts and maps included are fairly advanced, and the intended audience is likely to prefer the realism of photos to the artistic drawings. This set provides solid geographic information in an understandable and accessible way, but its illustrative format is a drawback. VERDICT A secondary purchase for collections in need of illustrated guides.

Most of these series help readers navigate the vast field of geography. The best is Jump!’s “Hello America,” which takes beginning readers to places and monuments that are among the most important symbols of our country’s history. Lerner’s “What Do You Know About Maps?” is an excellent guide on how to read and use maps. ABDO’s “The United States of America” is a great selection for middle school reports. Some of the remaining titles are strong secondary choices. Capstone’s “States” and Jump!’s “Meals Around the World” are good for elementary readers. For middle schoolers, consider Crabtree’s “Mapographia” and “Mapping the Continents.”

Mary Mueller, Rolla Public Schools, MO

For the latest nonfiction series reviews, check out the Fall 2016 Series Made Simple

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