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Book Review: Mike’s Adventure Packs Adventure Guide by Amanda Salzman

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Here’s a startling statistic: “Americans are generally rated 117th of 193 countries for geographical knowledge” (Tourism Review, May 8, 2008). It is widely known that after Hurricane Katrina, nearly one-third of Americans could not place Louisiana on a map, nearly half couldn’t find Mississippi.

This is not an indictment of Americans; in a survey conducted by LateRooms.com, 19% of Britons didn’t know that Britain is a member of the European Union; 62% couldn’t remember the last time they had looked at a map. Like Americans who cannot pinpoint various states on the map, many British are unable to locate countries on their own continent.

These facts aren’t particularly scary, but they do indicate a general disinterest and lack of education in geography. Why aren’t we interested in exactly where Addis Ababa is, for example? One reason may be that the likelihood of us being lost in Addis Ababa and having to find our way back to Anytown, USA, is extremely low. Our main interest in geography is based on getting from one place to another, and our GPS devices make knowing how to do that of little value (unless we’re lost and our GPS is broken or the batteries are dead).

Geography, though, is more than locations on a map. When we study geography, we study people, climates, culture, environments, and so much more. National Geographic has been around for a long time; might that be because geography is actually interesting?

For young people (or old) with an interest in the world and its contents, Mike’s Adventure Packs Adventure Guide is a treasure trove. Author Amanda Salzman has created a colorful guide to the planet with stops on every continent. Not only is it a great geography resource, it is also an interesting and useful traveler’s guide. Full of suggestions on how to travel, what to pack, and how to plan, Mike’s Adventure Packs Adventure Guide also introduces the would-be adventurer to what to expect at the airport, how to board a plane, train travel, and other essential information for successful and enjoyable travel.

Maps, illustrations, and photographs allow the reader the opportunity to see what the highlighted areas offer and understand where, exactly, they are located. In addition to its focus on every continent, Mike’s Adventure Packs Adventure Guide highlights cultural facts such as holidays, the Seven Wonders of the World, the top cities, and types of travel. It offers checklists for young travelers, and ends with a generous serving of puzzles and games based on the information in the book. This Adventure Guide is a neat introduction (or expansion) of matters geographical, a valuable travel companion, and a great take-along for long trips (regardless of the mode of transportation). Expertly produced and entertainingly presented, Mike’s Adventure Packs Adventure Guide makes a fine gift for kids, ages eight through fourteen.

Bottom Line: Would I buy Mike’s Adventure Packs Adventure Guide? Yes. It’s a worthy addition to any young person’s library.

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