How I Learned Geography by Uri Shulevitz.
Farrar Straus Giroux: NY, 2008.

A boy and his parents are refugees from their war-torn homeland, living in a far removed, desolate area. All their possessions gone and little to live on, sometimes not even food. One day, the boy's father comes home late from the market with a map instead of food. The boy and mother are disappointed and angry as they go to bed without food. However, the next day the father hangs the map which covers a whole wall, and it lights and warms the whole room. As time goes on, the boy studies the map, and his curiosity and imagination are stimulated, making their dire lifestyle easier to tolerate.

The story is based on the author's own experiences. As a child, his family fled from Poland to Turkestan (now Kazakhstan). Their is an explanation at the back, including a few pictures.

The style of the illustrations is cartoonish, with mixed mediums watercolor, pen and ink and collage. Vibrant and appealing, an enjoyable accompaniment to the story.

related-refugees, poverty, survival, maps, geography, imagination, touches on World War II, author's childhood, social studies
RL=2nd-5th. Despite the circumstances, the mood is light. It moves quickly enough away from difficulties to the boy's using the map to explore.

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