Thursday, October 20, 2011

A World of Wonders; Geographic Travels in Verse and Rhyme

A Readers Guide by Melissa Scholl

In Lewis’ tribute to geography he entices young readers to  "Discover the world of GE-OG-RA-PHY!" and recommends, "traveling by poem."  Many of the 26 poems spark the reader’s interest in rhymes such as, “Is the Yellow Sea Yellow?” and “The Artic and Antarctica; Which is Colder?”  Some poems are informational like "How to Tell Latitude from Longitude" and "How a Cave Will Behave" This collection of children’s poems covers a variety of topics from famous explorers to locations from around the world. 

Review excerpts/awards:  
Horn Book (March/April, 2002) Witty observations are seasoned with memorable imagery: "And the Poles remained like continental / Plates of white ice cream." Adding much to the total effect, Alison Jay's illustrations are witty yet understated in color so that they complement rather than compete with the subject.

Kirkus Review (January 1, 2002) In catchy, clever verse, the prolific Lewis (Earth and You: A Closer View, not reviewed, etc.) plays with place names, marvels at the journeys of several explorers, goes "Island Hopping," gads about the cities of Europe, even provides mnemonics to distinguish stalagmites from stalactites, and latitude from longitude-"Lines of latitude / Have a f l a t i t u d e. / Longitudinal lines / Rise like porcupines." 

School Library Journal (April 1, 2002)A pleasing variety of views frame or alternate with the verses. They are sprinkled with tiny sketches of elongated humans with tiny heads and animals, sometimes in humorous poses."

Questions before reading: 
If you could go to any place in the world where would it be? 
Who is Christopher Columbus and why is he famous?  
What do you notice about the illustrations? 
What is the difference between a story and a poem? 

Suggestions for reading aloud:
While reading Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand Magellan etc. display photos, maps and various artifacts that students can investigate.
When reading City of riddles after each riddle give students a few minutes to do a quick Internet search to find the answers.
Copy various poems onto charts and practice choral reading.  Give students their own copy of the poem.
Discuss rhyming patterns and locate words that rhyme.

Follow-up activities:
Language Arts/Social Studies: Students can research different explorers and make a real life representation of the explorer.  Have students work in small groups to conduct their research.  Use butcher paper and have the students trace the outline of one of the partner’s body.  Once the students have the “life size” poster have then dress their explorer in articles of clothing and items that pertain to their assigned person.  Students may write interesting facts and other important information about their explorer around their poster.

Writing:  Students can keep a response journal and write about the poem topic
Writing:  Students can make a poetry interactive notebook.  Have students copy various poems inside a spiral notebook.  All poems should be copied on the left side.  On the right side have an activity to go along with the poem.  Some examples could be:
·      Marco Polo, Pilgrim on the left and have a picture of Marco Polo and the students research 5 facts about and write the facts under his picture posted to the right.
·      How a Cave will Behave on the left side and students can draw stalactite and stalagmites on the right
·      Oceans Five on the right side of the notebook and students can label a blank map of the oceans on the left side

Social Studies: Students can draw and label the various landforms.               
Language Arts/ Grammar: Students can identify various verbs in the story and place them on a verb chart                   
Social Studies/Geography: Students can fill in a classroom map of the various locations that are in the poems. 

Related web sites/blogs:
  • J. Patrick Lewis website:                          
  • Geography Poetry Corner 
  • Geography Sites for children:

Related books:
Other books by J. Patrick Lewis:
Countdown to Summer: A Poem for Every Day of the School Year (2009)
Spot the Plot: a Riddle Book of Book Riddles (2009)
The World’s Greatest: Poems (2008)
Michelangelo’s World (2007)
Poems for Teaching in the Content Areas: 75 Powerful Poems to Enhance Your History, Geography and Math Lessons (2007)
Good Mornin’, Miss America: The U.S.A. in Verse (2005)

Other children’s books about geography:
The Everything Kids' Geography Book: From the Grand Canyon to the Great Barrier Reef - Explore the World!  by Jane P. Gardner, J. Elizabeth (2009)
America Is… by Louise Borden and Stacey Schuett (2005)

1 comment:

  1. This will be a good book for the kids. I like how the topics were arranged the way kids will find enjoyable.

    pattaya villas