________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 15 . . . . March 20, 2009

cover Follow That Map! A First Book of Mapping Skills.

Scot Ritchie.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2009.
32 pp., hardcover, $16.95.
ISBN 978-1-55453-274-2.

Subject Headings:
Map reading-Juvenile literature.
Maps-Juvenile literature.

Kindergarten-grade 2 / Ages 5-7.

Review by Gail Hamilton.

*** /4


Earth is shaped like an orange. In order to show the whole world at once, a mapmaker "peels" Earth's surface just like an orange and lays it down flat. On a flat map, curved gridlines help remind you of Earth's real shape.

In this interactive picture book, Sally and her four friends take an imaginary trip through their neighbourhood and beyond to find Sally's missing pets- her dog, Max, and her cat, Ollie. The book explains mapping concepts, such as the compass rose and direction, scale, legend and symbols, and provides examples of different kinds of maps- city maps, routes or trails, weather maps, treasure maps, topographical maps, a world map and even a map of the solar system. As the children search for the lost pets in a variety of places- their neighbourhood, the park, the city, the country, on an island, at an amusement park, and as far as the whole world and in outer space- they learn how to read maps. Hidden on every page are Max and Ollie. At the back of the book is an activity for readers to try. Using only their feet as units of measure, readers can create a "map" of their bedrooms-doors, windows, walls and furniture- on graph paper. (The author suggests that, if children have no graph paper, they can make their own by dividing a piece of plain paper into equal squares- no small task for little ones.)

     The text, printed in a large, simple font, is divided into two sections: the top section tells the action of the story while the bottom half, printed in boldface type, gives very brief explanations of the featured mapping concept. Though the premise of this book is sound, readers would benefit far more from having an adult read it with them and asking leading questions about the illustrations than by reading the book independently. For example, in reading about scale, the adult could help the child to figure out distances, and trying to explain about Earth's gridlines might lend itself to actually peeling an orange and flattening out the peel to provide a concrete example. Names of continents and vocabulary, such as cliff, plateau and subway, might be unfamiliar to many young children, yet these words are not defined, hence the importance of adult assistance.

     Bright, colourful cartoon drawings will not only appeal to the intended audience but also provide additional items for readers to notice along the way. A table of contents and an index are included.


Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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