Friday, August 3, 2012

Book #216: The Once Upon a Time Map Book by B. G. Hennessy, Illustrated by Peter Joyce

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This book provides maps for tours of six enchanted lands. Fly to Neverland with Peter Pan, skip down the yellow brick road with Dorothy, fall down the rabbit hole to Wonderland, climb the beanstalk to the Giant’s kingdom, see the sights at the market in Aladdin’s kingdom, and enjoy the lush greenery of the Enchanted Forest where Snow White and the seven dwarves live. Can you follow the directions to navigate your way through each of the six lands? Can you avoid all the perils and find all the hidden objects?

Hennessy and Joyce have created a playfully illustrated book to help kids practice map reading. Each map is set against an quadrant grid (can you find the Jolly Roger at A4?) and a compass to provide directional context is placed in the corner. Readers must consult the key to figure out how long a munchkin mile is and how to recognize the pebble road as compared to the yellow brick road. Points of interest are featured, as well as warnings about dangers to avoid and items to find hidden in the map. The text, especially the map directions, is descriptive and utilizes a wide vocabulary. The illustrations are detailed and intentionally busy in places. Each map is rendered in a similar style, but in a different color palate. For instance, Aladdin’s kingdom uses a palate of yellows, oranges, and reds, while Wonderland is a combination of grass green and red brick.

I usually pick books meant for storytime, but this book is an exception. This book is best enjoyed by elementary age kids in a very small group, no more than 3 kids. Otherwise some kids won’t be able to see the illustrations or read the text. Make sure kids alternate reading and following the directions.

Use this book for a program on maps and navigation. If possible, have several copies of the book so you can split into small teams. Have kids create their own maps and then have each team create directions for another team to follow. Create your own map of the library and write directions for a scavenger hunt. This gets kids moving and also helps them practice applying navigational skills beyond a flat map. Or you can have kids create a scavenger hunt for you and see if you can follow their directions.

Bring out road maps and plot the route to school, dance class, soccer practice, grandma’s house or other familiar locations. Make maps of your house, your block, your neighborhood, or even your town/city (much easier if your town is small).

Go to your local library and look at different types of maps. Many libraries have a small map collection and you will probably be able to find city, state, and country maps, as well as an atlas of the world and perhaps other specialty maps, such as topographical or climate maps.

There are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind when you read or create a map. What is the scale of the map? Which direction is North? Is there a key and what does it tell you?

Follow That Map, Me on the Map, and As the Crow Flies are great picture books to introduce preschooler and kindergartener to maps.

Check out the wonderful teacher’s guide and other resources on B. G. Hennessey’s website.


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