Written and illustrated by Uri Shulevitz
Most enjoyed by 3rd through 8th graders
2009 Caldecott Honor Book
This book appears deceptively simple. A young boy is flying over land covered with elements from many lands. A mosque, skyscraper, palm trees, a camel. It looks like it could be a story of a boy and his dreams. And it is, but this boy dreams to escape constant hunger and extreme poverty.
In 'How I Learned Geography', author Uri Shulevitz tells the story of how his family fled Poland in 1939, after the Warsaw blitz. They escaped to Turkestan where they shared a home with complete strangers and struggled to survive. One day, when his father returns from the market, Uri and his mother look forward to the bread he will bring for them. But instead of bread to feed their hungry bellies, he brings a map. A giant map, one that covers an entire wall of their house. At first, Uri is angry, but as he spends his days drawing pictures from the map, he begins to imagine life in all of the distant places the map shows. He climbs mountains, visits temples and desert sands, and makes little rhymes out of the names of places on the map. The world of war around him disappears as he draws and takes his imaginary journeys.
In time, Uri forgives his father for bringing home the map. He realizes it has given him hours of pleasure. Perhaps his book will inspire you to bring home a map of your own to dream over. It just might make the waning days of winter go faster!