Friday, March 07, 2014
A History of the World with Google Earth by Penny Worms, Ilust. by William Ings
I've mentioned A History of the World with Google Earth by Worms and Ings a couple times, as I read, because I was having such a blast playing with it. I didn't actually realize there was so much I didn't understand about Google Earth, although there have been times one of the guys has leaned over me, click-click-clicked and expected me to somehow follow all that clicking. In other words, there were definitely some features I didn't know how to use.
A History of the World with Google Earth is meant for children but I would say it's great for a broader age range than just youngsters. As an adult who is finding the newer, sleeker programs sometimes incomprehensible (What was wrong with using icons with words attached to them? I miss that!) I appreciate being walked through how to use a program simply. A History of the World with Google Earth does just that, telling you about the various icons and which to click to use specific features. In a single day, I went from not knowing how on earth my husband managed to walk us through the streets of London -- to look for a shop where we stopped for pastries -- to knowing how to navigate from air or street view and jump into 360° photographs.
Of course, since the book is directed at children, there are lots of fun activities to keep them busy as they take a jaunt around the world, collecting numbers to reveal a bonus surprise location, answering questions, solving puzzles. There are coordinates to lead you to each location in the book, descriptions of what you're looking at, the historical significance of each location and specific items to seek. There are hidden "geographical and historical misfits"(a bit like hunting for Waldo) and well-labeled illustrations help you visualize history in action. The jaunt through Pompeii in the Roman Empire page spread was one of my favorites. You should be able to click on this photo to enlarge it.
Here's a closer look at one of the spreads, which gives you a view of one of the historical misfits. Just below the info about Ancient Egypt, you can see a man with a camera standing on the wall:
When I mentioned how much I was enjoying the experience of traveling around the world using Google Earth by going to a few of the locations in A History of the World with Google Earth, each day, one of my friends said it sounded like a good book to go through as a fun summer project with her grandchild. Absolutely! It would be great for spring break or summer fun. Some children might need guidance and others will probably enjoy reading and navigating on their own -- it just depends on the individual's needs and skills. I don't think there's anything wrong with an adult buying this book for his or her self, either. I've used children's books to help me get a start on understanding quite a few things, over the years, including children's history, craft books and even childrens' versions of Shakespeare's plays.
Highly recommended - Loads of fun for kids and adults, a book that not only teaches how to use Google Earth and informs youngsters about history but also entertains with games, delightful illustrations and activities.
Funny aside: When I received A History of the World with Google Earth in a box of unsolicited books from Sterling Kids, my initial thought was, "This one looks gimmicky." So, I thought it was pretty humorous to find out just how wrong I was when I sat down with the book and discovered that it was not just useful but loads of fun. Shows how easy it is to mess up when you judge a book by its cover. What a delightful way to be proven wrong.
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