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National Geographic Our World: A Child's First Picture Atlas    by National Geographic Society order for
National Geographic Our World
by National Geographic Society
Order:  USA  Can
National Geographic, 2006 (2006)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In this oversized picture book, National Geographic presents a world atlas and basic geography concepts, geared towards kids aged three to six. The flaps include impressive cut-out suggestions for Family Fun, offering ways for young geographers 'to explore the world around them', and learn in the process. We're told that the maps were simplified and 'designed to resemble giant puzzle pieces', easy for little ones to grasp.

World maps reflect: Earth as a globe, as seen from space; the flat version that 'lets you see the whole Earth at one time'; the topographical one that shows different types and heights of land; and the kind that shows countries where people live. Kids learn to distinguish land and water and to understand a compass and directions. They appreciate that maps can indicate the presence of lakes and forests and mountains, and that there are many countries in the world, where life is different from their own.

Specific maps show the states in the U.S. and the provinces of Canada, and there are similar presentations of the countries in each continent. Each comes with photos and brief facts that highlight aspects of life in that region, such as the Winterlude Festival in Ottawa, Canada, Brazil's carnival or Asia's rice terraces. At the bottom of these pages are challenges to find specific items superimposed on the continent (U.S. or Canada) map, such as the Florida Everglades, whose symbol here is an alligator, or Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

At the back of this fascinating and informative volume is a Glossary of terms like capital city and rain forest, along with a brief pronunciation guide for words like Ganges and Maasai. National Geographic Our World is an excellent resource - enjoy exploring it together, while increasing children's appreciation of the big picture beyond their own everyday lives.

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