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To the Ends of the Earth

As soon as I read the table of contents in Explore! The Most Dangerous Journeys of all Time ($17.95, Thames and Hudson, Ages 10-14) by Deborah Kespert, I knew I was explore-the-most-dangerous-journeys-of-all-timein for a real treat. And so are your kids! The voyagers in this book took me back to the days when I was a writer for cruise lines, in particular Expedition Cruises, when I wrote about many famous explorers.

For starters, the book itself is extremely sturdy, with high quality binding, an extra resilient hard cover and pages with nice card stock. An impressive list of 61 explorers, with the dates they explored, starts as far back as Marco Polo in the 1200s. You’ll also find explorers such as Christopher Columbus, James Cook, Lewis and Clark, Ernest Shackleton, Edmund Hillary and more. Four page chapters are dedicated to each one of these adventurers. Readers learn about the great risks these explorers took – whether by boat, on foot, via vehicle, by plane, or even rocket – to be the first at whatever they set out to do – climb a mountain, reach the South Pole, fly solo across an ocean, explore an uncharted land and so much more.

I was glued to this book to say the least and loved reliving the excitement exploration holds for those who dare to discover! Each chapter highlights the challenge that the explorer took, lists the dangers, gives the reader the who, what, when and where, offers a concise timeline of events and includes marvelous illustrations and old photographs. There are offset boxes, some containing information about the dangers the men and women faced, and others offering tips on ‘how to’ information about the expeditions.

This summer, set sail for some fascinating reading, but don’t forget your flashlight, rucksack, water and cell phone! Enjoy!

– Reviewed by Debbie Glade

Gone West

Gone West: Bold Adventures of American Explorers and Pioneers

Written and told by Jim Weiss
Greathall Productions Inc., $14.95, ages 5 and up, http://www.facebook.com/Greathall

1124-045If you think Lewis and Clark are a comedy team from the ‘50s and learned everything you know about Sacagawea watching Night at The Museum, it’s time to pop in the new CD Gone West: Bold Adventures of American Explorers and Pioneers.

Follow the entertaining and informative narrative from master storyteller Jim Weiss and share Jefferson and Monroe’s excitement at creating a country destined to span from coast to coast. Marvel at the mix of bold pioneer spirit, strong survival skills and a lot of sheer luck that grew the U.S. westward, and revisit a time when amazing adventures and discoveries lay around every bend.

Learn how clever U.S. diplomatic negotiations garnered not only New Orleans, but the entire area known as Louisiana from Napoleon, and how the Lewis and Clark expedition succeeded with the help of various native nations. Meet the men who braved danger and backbreaking work to build the thousands of miles of track for the Transcontinental Railway, and find out how Robert Fulton’s steamboat forever changed the way Americans traveled and did business. This enlightening CD will turn your next car trip into your very own covered wagon journey whether or not you’re heading up north to Oregon. Giddyup!

Animals As Seen By Darwin & Polo

Yesterday, guest reviewer Debbie Glade looked at Charles Darwin and today she is also reviewing Animals Charles Darwin Saw: An Around-the-World Adventure and Animals Marco Polo Saw: An Adventure on the Silk Road, two Chronicle Books by author Sandra Markle.

9780811850490_normAnimals Charles Darwin Saw (Chronicle, $16.99; ages 7-10) is beautifully illustrated with bright colors by Zina Saunders. The depictions bring the reader closer to the reality of Darwin’s nineteenth century world. Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzinni’s illustrations in Animals Marco Polo Saw (Chronicle, $16.99; ages 7-10) are both vivid and somewhat smoky at the same time, demonstrating her originality. Her use of light and shadows are incredibly impressive, and I really enjoyed studying all the detail.

In the Darwin book, readers learn about the naturalist’s expedition aboard the HMS Beagle. The author does a good job introducing his theory of evolution to young readers, and I like the way she explains what Darwin was trying to accomplish on his voyage. In reality, Darwin’s findings and theories are quite sophisticated, and Sandra Markle simplifies it for children in a way that is understandable yet not at all patronizing. In Marco Polo, readers are taken on a j9780811850513_normourney from Italy, through the Middle East and to China, along the same path this great explorer took during the 13th century. Young readers learn about Marco Polo’s interest in the people he encountered (Kublai Kahn among them), their cultures and religions, as well as the many unique animals he saw that were unfamiliar to him. Both books highlight specific animals with offset copy, giving the reader a greater depth of information.

Also, each book starts off with a note to parents and teachers and has a Table of Contents. In the back is a Glossary, a “For More Information” page and even a helpful Index.

unknownAnimals Charles Darwin Saw: An Around-the-World Adventure and Animals Marco Polo Saw: An Adventure on the Silk Road teach children about two curious men from long ago, with great minds, who journeyed afar in search of answers. They each brought back an abundance of new information to share that would change the way we think and live. There is so much that Charles Darwin and Marco Polo have taught us, and these books are a great way to expose young readers to these great men.


dsc_0024-300x217Debbie Glade is the author, illustrator and voice talent of the award-winning children’s picture book The Travel Adventures of Lilly P Badilly: Costa Rica, published by Smart Poodle Publishing. She visits South Florida schools with her reading, writing and geography programs. For years, Debbie was a travel writer for luxury cruise lines. She writes parenting articles for various websites and is the Geography Awareness Editor for WanderingEducators.com. She blogs daily at smartpoodlepublishing.com.

Let’s Go Exploring for Geography Awareness Week

According to guest reviewer Debbie Glade, Charles Darwin and the Beagle Adventure (Templar Books, an imprint of Candlewick, $19.99; ages 8-12), written by A.J. Wood and Clint Twist, “is the highest quality, most inviting, most creative, most entertaining, most sophisticated and most informative children’s science book I have ever read. There, I said it.”

dsc_0024-300x217Debbie Glade is the author, illustrator and voice talent of the award-winning children’s picture book The Travel Adventures of Lilly P Badilly: Costa Rica, published by Smart Poodle Publishing. She visits South Florida schools with her reading, writing and geography programs. For years, Debbie was a travel writer for luxury cruise lines. She writes parenting articles for various websites and is the Geography Awareness Editor for WanderingEducators.com. She blogs daily at smartpoodlepublishing.com.


51lyslu9b5l_sl500_aa240_As soon as I took one look at the unique cover, I knew this was a special book. The pages are accessed by opening the flaps of a sturdy, magnetic cardboard cover. What lies inside is a visual wonderland of flaps to flip and envelopes to open, revealing letters, illustrations, maps, photos and scientific information regarding Darwin’s findings aboard the HMS Beagle. You will actually feel as though you are reading Darwin’s diary from the famed voyage of 1831 to 1836. The pages were even printed to look as though they were hand sewn to the binding! (FYI – This book is one of three historical notebooks from Templar Books, all of which I’d love to read.)

This is not a book for you or your child to rush through; rather you will want to curl up on the couch and take your time reading and discovering. You don’t want to miss a thing. Open the inside cover to pull Darwin’s family tree out of an envelope. Then continue on to read about the experiences that led Darwin to a life of scientific exploration and discovery. View a map of the track the HMS Beagle took, read a letter from Darwin to his father about his decision to take the voyage and then soak in all the flora and fauna as seen by the great naturalist himself. And of course, learn about Darwin’s theory of evolution.

0763645389int1Did you know that the HMS Beagle’s departure was delayed numerous times before setting sail? Or that there were 74 people on board the not-so-large ship? And that Darwin experienced severe seasickness? Or that Darwin was a very religious man? You will learn about these facts as well as details about Darwin’s tracking of plant and animal species and how he collected specimens in South America, around Cape Horn and on his voyage back to England.

Reading Charles Darwin and the Beagle Adventure is as close as you can get to actually being on Darwin’s voyage of 1831-1836. This book is indeed a lifetime keeper.

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