Tag Archives: Sara Fanelli

Maptastic thoughts on personal geography

25 Aug

I recently finished listening to Andrew Clements’  The Map Trap.

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Alton loves maps and draws his own personal geographies of people and experiences. Some of them are brutally honest, so he doesn’t show them to others. Alas, one day his collection goes missing and he goes on a mission to find them and the person who is holding them hostage. The book is about what you’d expect from Andrew Clements, though shorter than many of this other books. There is a precious kid with a problem to solve. I think, though, that my prediction about the culprit was better than Clements’ actual perpetrator. Even though his teacher is a first year teacher, I can’t imagine she would be so unprofessional as to blackmail a student to confront a principal about saying “um” or make him change the type of t-shirt he wears. I suspected it was Alton’s little sister, and I would expect someone her age to blackmail a  sibling into doing those sorts of activities.

The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Keith Nobbs who does a marvelous job. Quite frankly, he saved it for me.  Nobbs projects a youthful voice appropriate to the characters in the novel, whom he manages ti differentiate nicely. His narration of the more descriptive elements of the book provides a nice balance with the emotional states of the characters.

The 2 CD Simon & Schuster audiobook, which runs 2 hours & 30 minutes, was provided to me by Audiobook Jukebox.

As I was listening to the book, an idea took hold. In spite of the books faults, it could be a good read aloud during a map unit. Or, it could be a great beginning of the year read aloud that helps turn kids on to ways of representing themselves.

Imagine reading The Map Trap  aloud, but coupling it with non-fiction texts about mapping personal geographies!

For younger readers, or to introduce the idea, you could turn to Sara Fanelli’s My Map Book.

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This is a wonderful book in which she maps everything from a bedroom to a dog.

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For older readers, there is You Are Here: Personal geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination by Katharine Harmon.

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 Some of these have some mature content, so be sure to preview it before sharing it with kids. The book was written with an adult audience in mind, but the ideas contained within are beautiful and though provoking.

The idea of mapping your personal geography flows into the art of info graphics. James Gulliver Hancock has a new book out entitled Artists, Writers, Thinkers, Dreamers: Portraits of 50 famous Folks & All Their Weird Stuff.

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From Abraham Lincoln to the Wright Brothers, Hancock creates mind maps of famous lives.

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Wouldn’t this be a cool beginning of the year activity? You’d learn about your students and you could see what kind of thinking and graphic skills they have.

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