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The Little Man In the Map: With Clues To…
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The Little Man In the Map: With Clues To Remember All 50 States

by E. Andrew Martonyi

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A group of students eager to learn have been given an assignment to learn the 50 states. They are literally puzzled by the pieces they must put together. One cool thing about this assignment is the teacher will give them clues that will be written in verse as a rhyme which will make learning the 50 states fun. One student picks up a piece of the puzzle laid out in front of them and it looks like a hat, it's Minnesota. Another student picks up a piece that looks like a boot, it's Louisiana. The students quickly pick out other pieces and before long there is a little man put together right in the middle. The students ban together and create a clue and a name for the states that make up the man. They laugh and smile, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana are creatively abbreviated into MinIow MisArkLou. The clue is then broken down even more to MIM, Man Inside the Map. Magically the man jumps out of the pages to help the students learn the rest of the 50 states.

Parents and teachers will love having this handy man and tool around. Fun rhymes that reference all the states that surround the man make learning the states fun and easy. Colorful pictures and creative design are very clever. Martonyi's and Olson have divided the states into regions. Each state has a picture clue of something that represents each state, such as elf's that guard the gold found in California. Alaska has old man winter representing the cold weather found in that state. The back of the book has a blank map so that children can create their own rhymes and fun ways to remember the states. This book is an excellent interactive tool that will help kids learn quickly. The book has won the Eric Hoffer Award, IPPY Award, Moonbeam Children's Book Award and was a finalist for the Book of the Year and Best Book Awards. ( )
  KristiBernard | Sep 20, 2012 |
Some Canadians have an excellent understanding of the geography of the United States. Sadly, until recently I have not been amongst their numbers. That all changed for me after reading The Little Man In The Map. While it’s true that this title was created to help school-aged children memorize all 50 states through the use of mnemonic stories, rhymes, and illustrations, I found it extremely helpful in remedying my own geographical weaknesses.

Here in Canada we’re faced with learning only ten provinces and three territories, a simple feat in comparison with the tiny, irregular puzzle-pieced states that make up the staggering 50 states included in the union. After reading through The Little Man three or four times (my children insisted I read it out aloud, as they enjoyed it just for the illustrations and funny story), I went from knowing the names and corresponding locations of five to six states to being able to identify and name all 50 on a map. It might seem amazing, but the mnemonic strategies employed by the author/illustrator team of E. Andrew Martonyi and Ed Olson work together seamlessly to create a resource that is impossible for the memory to resist.

The Little Man opens with a class of school-aged children who are confronted with the task of memorizing all 50 states. While working over enormous puzzles they try to associate each state with a shape they can easily recognize. To their surprise they realize that the states of Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana from North to South make the figure of a little man wearing a hat and boots, the man in the map – MinIow MisArkLou is his name, or MIM, an acronym for Man Inside the Map.

Upon wondering if this imaginary fellow might be able to help them identify the memory clues for each of the other states, he springs to life and guides the students on a journey across the U.S. map. Dividing the states into regions MIM provides clues that connect the states, explain their shapes, or simply tell a story to remember their names and locations. Each of the states contains a lively, full colour illustration within its boundaries that helps readers associate the state with the story and rhyme given.

Some regions are trickier than others, and will require some further review, but whenever facts start slipping it’s easy enough to grab the book for a quick review. A complete map of the U.S. with the memory-tweaking illustrations is presented in the last few pages (also available as a wall map from Schoolside Press), followed by a map of the U.S. without illustrations to provide mastery of the newly gained geography skills.

While teaching my preschool aged children to memorize all 50 of the states isn’t on my educational agenda for my children for a few years (we need to work on Canada first), I’m confident that any reader who studies The Little Man will be able to recount the names and locations of all 50 states within a matter of one to two weeks.

A teacher guide including enrichment activities for school classrooms is in development and includes a crossword puzzle, brainstorming, writing, music, and craft activities to reinforce the skills learned. While only a few of the activities within the teacher guide could be used profitably within a homeschool or smaller setting, homeschoolers and independent learners can use The Little Man in any setting simply by reading it through.

I was somewhat hesitant to fully engage The Little Man due to the whimsical appearance of the cover illustration, complete with what could be construed as ‘pixie dust’. While MIM is an imaginative, fictional character, he is not a magical creation, nor an elf. Three elves do appear in illustrations of the states, and one strange face on a box (Montana and Wyoming) on a ‘magic block’, but these are the only iffy references I could detect. For our family we decided that these inclusions were excusable due to the otherwise exemplary nature of the title.

Independently published by Schoolside Press, The Little Man has been garnering a wide variety of small and independent press awards as well as rave reviews. The results are undeniable, and a book for learning state capitals is currently in development. When can we look forward to a similar title for memorizing Canadian and world geography? I’ll be first in line to pick up copies. Martonyi and Olson have hit upon a winning concept that I’ll enthusiastically recommend to anyone, young or old, who struggles with identifying all 50 states.

Free colouring pages from The Little Man in the Map can be found for download at Schoolside Press.

Reviewed at http://quiverfullfamily.com ( )
  jenniferbogart | Dec 23, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0978510046, Hardcover)

Learning all 50 U.S. states is easy when you learn from The Little Man In the Map! Asked by their teacher to find clues for memorizing the states, students begin to see imagesa hat, a shirt, a pair of boots formed by state boundaries. When they put some of them together, they're amazed to find the outline of a man standing in the middle of the map. Excited by their discovery, they draw a face and arms on him and create The Little Man In the Map, whom they nickname MIM. Their imaginations bring MIM alive, and with his help they discover the surprising roles all the states can play. Soon they can spot the elf, the playful dog, the spooky head, and all the others. This imaginatively illustrated story, narrated in rhyme by The Little Man In the Map, shows each state's part in its region and how it interacts with those around it. This makes learning their locations visual, easy, and fun.

MIM Awards as of 4/8/2009

Moonbeam Children s Book Awards

Silver Medal Winner Non-Fiction Picture Book

Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group

Silver Medal Winner Outstanding Book of the Year, Most Original Concept

2008 Next Generation Indie Book Awards

Finalist Children s Picture Book

Finalist Education/Academic

ForeWord Magazine

Finalist - Book of the Year Award

USA Book News

Finalist Best Book Awards

Eric Hoffer Book Awards

2009 Montaigne Medal finalist. (and on Short List)

Printing Industry of Minnesota

2007 Certificate of Merit for Print Excellence in Books

Chicago Book Clinic The 57th Annual Book Clinic

Honorable Mention School Publishing PreK/Primary with 4/C Internals (Won by Scholastics)

The Newberry Library

"Especially in the last decade, we ve really built up substantial holdings in the history of geographic pedagogy, and our professional development programs for teachers have become a fixture, so MIM has found a very appropriate home."

- Robert W. Karrow, Jr. Curator of Special Collections and Curator of Maps

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:54 -0400)

Elementary school children identify the shapes formed by U.S. state boundaries in this rhyming story that teaches mnemonic devices for learning the names and locations of the fifty states.

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