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How I Learned Geography (2008)

by Uri Shulevitz

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6457734,665 (4.04)12
As he spends hours studying his father's world map, a young boy escapes the hunger and misery of refugee life. Based on the author's childhood in Kazakhstan, where he lived as a Polish refugee during World War II.

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Showing 1-5 of 77 (next | show all)
Having fled from war in their troubled homeland, a boy and his family are living in poverty in a strange country. Food is scarce, so when the boy's father brings home a map instead of bread for supper, at first the boy is furious. But when the map is hung on the wall, it floods their cheerless room with color. As the boy studies its every detail, he is transported to exotic places without ever leaving the room, and he eventually comes to realize that the map feeds him in a way that bread never could. The award-winning artist's most personal work to date is based on his childhood memories of World War II and features stunning illustrations that celebrate the power of imagination. An author's note includes a brief description of his family's experience, two of his early drawings, and the only surviving photograph of himself from that time. How I Learned Geography is a 2009 Caldecott Honor Book and a 2009 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.
  THiPBs | Nov 5, 2023 |
A book about a refugee that finds comfort and joy in studying a map. This could be good for history or learning about refugees or geography. A good read-aloud for any age or individual for 2nd to 3rd depending on reading level. ( )
  HaliaMclucas | Mar 2, 2023 |
This is based on Uri Shulevitz's own childhood about how his family moved away from the Nazis in Poland to Central Asia. This book focuses on the one important object to this author: a map. When his family left the war zone they had scarce resources, so this map was able to alter his reality and give him a sense of imagination to tolerate. The father had bought this map instead of bread because this map fulfilled all their imaginations with color in a dull world. In a history classroom, this is a great book choice to show the effects of war and the impact it has on a family. This is a great opportunity that it is possible to find light in a situation when it's dark. ( )
  BKmiec | Nov 8, 2021 |
This is a great book to help students understand how to read maps. It also teaches the power of imagination, and it covers war from a child's perspective. I think this book would be good as an introduction to a geography class. ( )
  Kym23 | Apr 30, 2021 |
This story is about a young boy whose family was very poor and could barely afford to eat. One day the boys father brought home a map instead of food went he went into town in search of food for his family. The boy initially was very angry at his father for causing them to go to bed hungry, but eventually came to love the map because looking at it allowed him to travel to places in his mind. This book could be used for a lesson by asking children to dig deeper into the meaning behind the book and have them provide feedback more in depth to answers than can just be found by reading the book. ( )
  sep067 | Sep 24, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 77 (next | show all)
[Starred Review] ... Driven from home by a war that devastated the land, a family flees to a remote city.... One day, the father returns from the market not with bread for supper but with a wall-filling map of the world. ... Although hungry, the boy finds sustenance of a different sort in the multicolored map, which provides... a catalyst for soaring, pretend visits to exotic lands. Shulevitz's rhythmic, first-person narrative reads like a fable for young children. Its autobiographical dimension, however, will open up the audience to older grade-schoolers, who will be fascinated by the endnote describing Shulevitz's life as a refugee in Turkestan after the Warsaw blitz, including his childhood sketch of the real map. ...
added by CourtyardSchool | editBook Links, Jennifer Mattson (Jul 1, 2008)
... Shulevitz now gives us his first explicitly autobiographical story. It is a masterpiece. ... In 1939, 4-year-old Shulevitz flees his smoking home in Warsaw.... One night the father returns from the bazaar without food — lacking money enough to feed the three of them, he has instead purchased a map. ... For the narrator ...the wall-size map begins to show him a world he can claim. ... the boy visits beaches, snowy expanses, dazzling cities, and in escaping his misery without walking one step, he at last comes to realize his father’s wisdom. ... In framing his own story, replacing autobiographical fact with archetypal forms, Shulevitz keeps the focus on the inner world that he has so consistently illuminated. Once again, he reminds us that folly is not the opposite of wisdom, but so close a relative that the two are often mistaken.
[Starred Review] Gr 2-5 Shulevitz provides a note and early drawings to source this story based on his own childhood experience. A small boy and his parents flee Poland in 1939. ... When the narrator's father returns from the bazaar with a huge map instead of bread to feed his starving family, his wife and son are furious. But... the youngster becomes fascinated by its every detail. ... The folk-style illustrations... combined with the brief text, create a perfectly paced story. ... Scenes framed in white depict the family boxed in by their desperate circumstances.... The frames disappear as the boy imagines himself released from his confinement to travel his newly discovered world. This poignant story can spark discussion about the power of the imagination to provide comfort in times of dire need.
added by CourtyardSchool | editSchool Library Journal, Marianne Saccardi (May 1, 2008)
A refugee boy learns more than geography from his father in this autobiographical memoir. A small boy and his parents flee war’s devastation.... One day the boy’s father comes home from the bazaar with a map instead of bread and the boy is furious. But... the boy spends hours studying and drawing the map and making rhymes out of exotic place names. He forgets he has no toys or books. ... In the spare text, Shulevitz pays tribute to his father as he recounts his family’s flight from Warsaw to Turkestan in 1939. Signature watercolor illustrations contrast the stark misery of refugee life with the boundless joys of the imagination.
added by CourtyardSchool | editKirkus Reviews (Jan 15, 2008)
[Starred Review] In a work more personal than Caldecott Medalist Shulevitz... has ever before offered, he summons boyhood memories of WWII and shows how he learned to defeat despair. Fleeing Warsaw shortly after the Germans invaded in 1939, the child Uri and his parents eke out a miserable existence in Kazakhstan. One day, Father comes home from the bazaar with a huge map of the world... [and] the boy is swept away by exotic place-names... picturing them remote from his hunger and suffering. As Uri taps into his artistic imagination and draws maps of his own, Shulevitz's illustrations shed their bleak, neorealist feel, and his beaten-down younger self becomes a Sendakian figure—sturdily compact, balletic, capable of ecstatic, audacious adventures. ...
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In memory of my father
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When war devastated the land, buildings crumbled to dust.
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As he spends hours studying his father's world map, a young boy escapes the hunger and misery of refugee life. Based on the author's childhood in Kazakhstan, where he lived as a Polish refugee during World War II.

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