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Exploring the World through Cartography Review by Nancy Dayton

Classical Conversations Multimedia
Classical Conversations, Inc.
255 Air Tool Drive
Southern Pines, NC 28387

Exploring the World through Cartography is a beautiful hard-bound book that includes historical information and maps for each region of the world. Published in 2017 by Classical Conversations and designed to correlate with the cartography component of the Challenge A middle school program, it presents content in sequence for that program. The book includes drawing tips, blackline master maps that can be copied or traced over, political maps, physical features, historical maps, and stories for each section. A plethora of full-color pages delights the reader with attractive images that appeal to all ages. The sections include North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Oceania, and Antarctica. Many of those sections are broken down into smaller regions. The introductory sections include an excellent explanation and illustrations of various map projections; a map and brief discussion of the great circles, latitude, and longitude; and a map of time zones.

One aspect of the book to bear in mind is its sewn binding, which may make it difficult to lay flat. The Classical Conversations Bookstore website shares a trick to breaking in such books. One should gently lay it on its back spine on a table, then let the front and back covers down, then alternate gently opening a few pages from the front and back. Do this a few times. After that, the book will lay flat more easily. The book is intended to be well-used and well-loved for many years, but it requires some thoughtful care.

My Challenge A student appreciates having several maps for each region at her fingertips, rather than having to hunt for one or more atlases to find the information she needs. She finds the pictures to be beautiful, especially the Waterman Butterfly Projection. She says it looks like an eye. Before drawing a given map freehand, she likes to trace over the blackline master for practice. The “A Place to Begin” introductory section for each major region provides thoughtful questions to ponder before beginning work. The historical maps and stories provide enticing ideas to explain observations made throughout the years. A favorite in this house is the pictures of “sea monsters” that people thought to have lived in the deep waters of the ocean. My daughter says the opportunities for integration with the Challenge A curriculum are endless. The Challenge A Curriculum Guide assigns specific reading from this source on a weekly basis.

Even though the content and sequence of the book fit hand-in-glove with the Challenge A program, it would certainly be useful for students of all ages, regardless of whether a family is participating in Classical Conversations, homeschoolers and non-homeschoolers alike. Truly, younger children will enjoy the beautiful pictures and hearing the stories read to them, and school-aged children will find it useful for connecting settings from literature and history studies, in addition to the study of map-making. The large, hard-cover book measures 12 inches by 9 inches and contains 208 pages. The thick pages are pleasing to the touch. It is priced at $34.99 and would make a lovely coffee-table or gift book.

Our family regards this book as a keeper, i.e., one that I expect we will cart around with us throughout our schooling years and beyond. We have a copy for each of my children and one for me, too!

 -Product review by Nancy Dayton, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, November, 2017