cover image Maps and Geography

Maps and Geography

Ken Jennings, illus. by Mike Lowery. S&S/Little Simon, $18.99 (160p) ISBN 978-1-4424-7328-7

The author of several books for adults and a record-holding Jeopardy! contestant after a 2004 winning streak, Jennings makes an assured (and funny) children’s book debut with this first title in the Junior Genius Guides series. Assuming the role of teacher (“Now, now, everyone stay in your seats. I will explain”), he labels chapters First Period, Second Period, etc. He sidesteps the didactic and keeps his tone colloquial and light while sharing facts about longitude and latitude, time zones, historical errors in cartography, discoveries made via Google Earth, the planet’s waterways, countries’ borders and capitals, and world landmarks. Among the myths Jennings debunks: Eratosthanes proved the Earth was round centuries before Columbus was born, and the Caspian Sea is actually the world’s biggest lake. He also has fun with the non-academic parts of the school day, presenting two games at “recess” and a recipe for “mappetizers” at lunch. Sidebars, tables, and Lowery’s scraggly line drawings (not all seen by PW) add visual variety to a book that’s packed with information. Greek Mythology is due simultaneously. Ages 8–10. Author’s agent: Jud Laghi Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Lilla Rogers Studio. (Feb.)