Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Little Man in the Map

Could you and your children find Nebraska quickly and with confidence on an unlabeled map of the United States? How about Ohio? New Hampshire? Alabama? No? Would you like to be able? The Little Man in the Map by Andrew Martonyi is a book created to help you correctly locate all 50 of the United States from memory. The book is written entirely in rhyme and introduces the reader to MIM (the little Man In the Map). MIM is made up of five states head to toe: Minnesota is his hat, Iowa is his face, Missouri is his shirt, Arkansas is his pants, and Louisiana is his boot. The book breaks down the United States into five different regions and MIM acts as a guide, taking the reader through each as well as the District of Columbia.

My final verdict: I can definitely see MIM when I look at a U.S. map--there he stands with a funny hat and one boot. But once the book introduces the individual regions, the picture clues are not always so obvious. The five regions are: Midwestern, South Central, Southeastern, Northeastern, and Western. Midwestern was good--I will always picture Illinois as honking on Iowa's nose, South Central was ok. Southeastern was a bit of a reach with the picture clues for Maryland and Delaware, but it was very helpful with the MAGS acronym to stand for the order of states from Mississippi to South Carolina. Where I had a real problem was the New England states listed in the Northeastern region. The picture clues for Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island were not very helpful...even a bit confusing as I could not really visualize the clues as the 'boots' they were supposed to resemble. On the positive side, I thought the clues for New York and Lake Ontario were excellent. Finally the Western region had both hits and misses. The acronym for the states that make up Four Corners was good as well as the color coding clues for California and Nevada. On the other hand, Washington and Oregon are introduced at the same time and no real differentiation is made between the two with the picture clue.

As a stand alone product, I would say 'no' to The Little Man in the Map. The rhymes are, at many times, too forced and have too much detail to be easily remembered. The picture clues are, also at times, too much of a stretch of the imagination to be helpful. BUT, I would definitely say 'yes' to MIM if he is used as a supplement. Some of the acronyms and picture clues are very helpful and fun and would be excellent at reinforcing rote memory or other forms of learning U.S. geography.

The Little Man in the Map is a nicely hardbound book published by Schoolside Press. Priced at $19.95, copies can be autographed by the author for no additional charge. A large, laminated The Little Man in the Map wall map is also available for purchase as well as FREE coloring pages from the book. If you find you like this book, keep checking the Schoolside Press website. They will be releasing another MIM book to help learn the state capitals. Want to keep up with the book's author? Check out Andrew Martonyi's blog.

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