Friday, November 21, 2008

A Review of The Little Man on the Map

Shhhh. I have a homeschooling mom secret. I really stink at geography. I mean, really stink. Let's just say that it's a good thing I live in a state that is shaped like a mitten and easily recognizable. My emphasis in our homeschool has been to learn how to use a map, as opposed to really learning state or country location. It's not that I don't think geography is important, because I do. Perhaps I have too many public school memories of geography memorization as being torturous. However, The Little Man in the Map has helped me see the study of geography in a new light.

The Little Man on the Map, written by E. Andrew Martonyi and illustrated by Ed Olson, approaches learning geography in a whole new way. This 64-page hardcover book uses rhyme and visualization to help kids learn the location of each state of the U.S.A. Throughout the pages, MIM (Man Inside the Map) guides the reader by region through the states, which together create a United States like you've never seen before. MIM tells a story in rhyme about the characters and objects used to visualize the states in each region. To find MIM, use your imagination and look closely at the outline of Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana, where he's been for over 150 years.

Both of my kids were drawn to the pages, even though they are both well past the picture book stage. The pages are colorful and the illustrations delightful thanks to illustrator Ed Olson. E. Andrew Martonyi's inspiration for the story of The Little Man on the Map was through his interest in travel and his granddaughter's fascination with his trips. I'm sure his granddaughter is just as pleased with the results as others seem to be. Since The Little Man on the Map's recent 2007 release, it has received the following recognition:

Next Generation Indie Book Awards Finalist (Silver)
ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year Award (Finalist)
Moonbeam Children's Book Awards (Finalist)
Independent Publisher Book Awards (Most Original Content)

The Little Man on the Map's use of visual aids and association engages the imagination in learning. The text is in rhyme, which not only makes the book audibly pleasing for reading aloud, but also aids in the recall of the information. An example of this technique in the book is the table, made of 6 states, upon which MIM dines. The table top is Tennessee and North Carolina, which create a flat surface. Four more states are represented by the table legs. This visualization is explain in the following rhyme:

Tennessee and North Carolina
Make that perfect table.
All they need are four good legs
To keep them nice and stable.

Mississippi, Alabama
Boost the western edge.
Georgia hold the middle,
Next to South Carolina's wedge.

Continuing with the technique, the rhyme further explains that each leg also has a letter assigned, representing the name of the state, which together spell MAGS (Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina).

Some of the associations are stronger than others, but all will engage your imagination. Rhyme, visual aids, story-telling, and word association used for learning are mnemonic techniques. For many kids, especially creative or special needs kids, this type of learning is essential. For others, it is just plain fun.

The Little Man on the Map would be an excellent book to supplement a U.S. geography study or perhaps to get the kids...or the teacher (ahem)... interested in one! Just when is that deadline for the National Geography Bee registration...?

From the words of MIM:

"Imagination is the magic key...To help unlock the clues you need ...To learn geography"

You can purchase The Little Man on the Map at for $19.95 directly from Schoolside Press. A 38 x 22 inch wall map in MIM style is also available for $21.95 or you can get both book and map in a combo package for $35. FREE SHIPPING is currently being offered for the holidays! Download the free coloring pages and watch a video about the book, both available on the home page. The author also has a blog, which he hopes will become an interactive place for kids and teachers to share interesting observations about our land.

Be sure to check out more reviews on this product from the TOS Crew's Official Blog.

1 comment:

TOSHeidi said...

This is a wonderful review. I, too, really enjoyed this book. Even my 15 year old got involved and had fun with it.