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Dare to Explore!

Our family always loves the yearly National Geographic Kids Almanac and the newest edition is no exception. With fab photos, facts, and an overall coolness quotient of 10, what’s not to love?

The best thing about the latest almanac is that it’s kept up with technology and offers readers a chance to watch neat new videos, play games and get even more facts via a QR Code you can scan with a smart phone or iPod Touch. Dinosaurs like me can also go the website.

So spend summer break the right way by packing a copy of the National Geographic Kids Almanac 2013 ($13.99, National Geographic Children’s Publishing, ages 8 and up). It’ll keep your entire family entertained while on the road or at home. It will also be a great conversation starter, a dispute resolver and something to keep returning to throughout the year.

Broken down into themed sections so fact hungry kids can devour the book in small chunks, the book begins with Your World 2013 then moves into the ever popular Amazing Animals pages packed with amazing pictures and tons of information. Did you know, for example, that there are 10, 158 vulnerable or endangered species in the world?  The list even includes the American crocodile!

Next comes the Awesome Adventure section where kids can learn about different fields of exploration, hone up on their photo taking skills and even get tips on writing an engaging essay. Following is Culture Connection, Super Science and some Fun and Games. The Wonders of Nature section covers world climate, natural disasters, biomes, oceans, coral reefs and so much more.  I appreciated the Going Green section with its out-of-this-world green inventions including Hotel in The Clouds lazily making its way across the Atlantic from New York to London in 37 hours. Talk about a room with a view!

The book ends with History Happens and Geography Rocks saving the best for last in my adult opinion, but kids will be delighted from start to finish. With 500 photos, maps, crafts, fun facts and a slew of other interesting tidbits, National Geographic Kids Almanac 2013 is an adventure on every page.

By the way, I just learned that London is the only city to host the Olympics three times. 

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Just How Far Can a Little Girl Dream?

Ronna Mandel reviews Isabella, Girl On The Go

Let’s take a trip around the world and, best of all, no passports or visas are required. Join Isabella, a spunky young girl now starring in the second book of her series; Isabella: Girl On The Go ($16.99,  Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky, ages  4 and up) by Jennifer Fosberry with pictures by Mike Litwin.

Kids first met Isabella in My Name Is Not Isabella: Just How Big Can a Little Girl Dream?, a New York Times‘ bestseller and now Fosberry’s decided to travel the globe letting Isabella’s imagination soar across oceans and continents.  We don’t need a boat or a plane, just an imagination like Isabella’s.  Her playful spirit kicks into overdrive as she keeps her dad company in the backyard. Her sandbox and surroundings are soon the Sphinx in Egypt where she’s an archaeologist searching for “the tombs of a king.”  She leaves behind pyramids for Paris to paint a picture of the Eiffel Tower and continues her journey to take in an empire (in China) and “the longest, strongest wall.”  Take Fosberry’s super story and mix in the wonderfully whimsical artwork from Litwin and you’ve got your ticket to ride.

What I like most about Isabella is her ability to turn a garden into a glorious city like Paris or anywhere else in the world for that matter!  All it takes is a dream, a supportive parent, the comforts of home and lots, and lots of love.

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Globetrotting With Kiwi and Pear

The very talented artist, Joyce Wan, won a greeting card illustration contest as a child, and that led to creating greeting card collections with the loveable hugging monkeys we see on her new book, Greetings from Kiwi and Pear.

9781934706596_normHaving just returned from the annual National Council for Geography Education Conference, I was delighted to review this book. Young children in America are in desperate need of educational materials that teach them about the world. When you open this sturdy, compact book, you will find a colorful map of the world showing the plane routes taken by Kiwi and Pear on their world journey. And to make that even better, there are 34 stickers at the back of the book, so children can mark the monkeys’ travel locations as they read or listen along to the story. I love that!

41xv-btml1lOn each set of pages is a simple postcard describing what Kiwi and Pear did in each destination, with a postage stamp that matches a sticker (with illustration and place name) to stick on the map. An outline showing where the sticker should go is included on the map to make it easier for little ones to find. Brilliant! The pages on the right fold out to display adorable, colorful illustrations of the monkeys enjoying their travels. Among their destinations you will find something on every continent – places such as New York, Antarctica, Paris, India, China, Mexico, Australia and more. And to make this even more fun, there’s a page about outer space!

I can’t say enough about the importance of books like Greetings from Kiwi and Pear. This book introduces children to travel and geography in a fun and educational way. Parents and grandparents will thoroughly enjoy sharing it with their loved ones. It’s never too early to teach your kids about the world, and Greetings from Kiwi and Pear is a great place to start!

Editor’s Note: This book is available from Blue Apple, an imprint of Chronicle Books and is recommended for ages 4-8.

dsc_0024-300x217This delightful book was reviewed by regular contributor Debbie Glade. 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.


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