CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 33 . . . . May 1, 2015
Hunter's dad wants to teach him how to identify where he is when he's away from home, and so the two play a game called "Where am I?". Hunter learns to read street signs and understand what an address is, and his dad explains what Hunter can do if he's ever lost. Hunter likes looking at his neighbourhood in a new way, and his dad is proud of him for taking the time to notice the streets and buildings around them.
Where Am I?, written by John Rogers and illustrated by Joshua Allen, aims to teach readers how to pay attention to the streets and addresses in their neighbourhoods. While at the mall getting ice cream, Hunter asks his father how people know where the mall is. Hunter's dad decides to take advantage of his son's curiosity by showing him what street signs and building numbers mean.
John Rogers wrote Where Am I? as a reaction to several real-life missing child cases. The purpose of this book is to help parents educate their children on the importance of knowing how to navigate neighbourhoods and ask for help getting home if needed. This book is a good starting point for a discussion about these topics, although the story itself leaves some things unclear. For instance, Hunter learns to read street signs and house addresses, which can be useful if he ever gets lost, but he doesn't actually learn how to recognize the specific streets leading to his home or other familiar places.
Some aspects of Where Am I? are lacking in details that would be useful in expanding the reader's comprehension of the game's concepts. While at the mall, Hunter's dad wants to use the mall directory map to find the ice cream parlour, a seemingly smart introduction to the concept of reading and deciphering maps. However, after this scene, no mention of map-reading is made again despite its relevance to the story's subject. Hunter's dad also tells Hunter that, if he is lost, it's okay to ask strangers for help or even knock on someone's door if no one is nearby. Other possible solutions for this kind of incident, such as suggesting Hunter look for a store or public building like a library before approaching a stranger's home, are not given.
There are some good concepts presented in this story, and readers are encouraged to play the "Where Am I?" game at home, paving the way for discussion and learning beyond the pages of the book. The simple cartoon-style illustrations by Joshua Allen also include end-papers of a map of Hunter's neighbourhood which might be a fun way for readers to explore the basics of map-reading. While the idea of the "Where am I?" game is an important one, the book, itself, only skims the surface of topics like reading maps, learning to follow street directions, and getting help when lost. However, John Rogers' interactive story offers parents and children a good starting point for the exploration of these ideas.
Meredith Cleversey is a librarian in Cambridge, ON. She loves to read, write, and live in a world of pure imagination.
To comment on this title or this review, send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.