World of Wonders: Geographic Travels in Verse and Rhyme

World of Wonders: Geographic Travels in Verse and Rhyme

by J. Patrick Lewis, Alison Jay

Could anyone somersault across the San Andreas fault? Why was Hawaii named after a Sandwich? Of longitude and latitude, which has more "flatitude"?

You'll travel the globe (and some of the sky) discovering answers to these and other questions you never knew to ask! There are all sorts of amazing things to know about thousands of "spaces and places to be" within


Could anyone somersault across the San Andreas fault? Why was Hawaii named after a Sandwich? Of longitude and latitude, which has more "flatitude"?

You'll travel the globe (and some of the sky) discovering answers to these and other questions you never knew to ask! There are all sorts of amazing things to know about thousands of "spaces and places to be" within the fantastical world of GE-OG-RA-PHY. Dive in, come aboard, zip along, take it slow-traveling by book is a great way to go!

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In Lewis's (A Burst of Firsts) witty and fact-filled collection of poems, the narrator of the opening poem urges readers to "Discover the world of GE-OG-RA-PHY!" and recommends "traveling by poem." The poet examines not only the explorers (Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand Magellan, etc.) themselves, but enough odd places and names to intrigue and tickle young readers. He offers a series of riddles about famous cities and facts about the globe ("Did you know [that] 27 Eiffel Towers and Mount Everest are equally tall?") as well as helpful mnemonic devices (e.g., in "How a Cave Will Behave": "A stalactite drips down from the ceiling./ A stalagmite grows up from the ground"). Lewis's verbal somersaults, both whimsical and plentiful, pepper the volume. As two men sit on a hilltop watching the aurora borealis, the speaker sees "clouds go by/ in colored thunderwear"; another tells of an "Archie fellow that I know/ [who] lived on an archi-pel-ago." But he and Jay (Picture This) also convey a sobering message in "Two Animals Talking": a boy says to a beetle, " `Behold all we have conquered, and/ The continents we've crossed!'/ `But since you always win,' said Beetle,/ `What have others lost?' " as the artwork shows a dark billowing cloud from a smokestack and a man chopping down a tree. The artist's many bird's-eye views brim with easy-to-recognize landmarks. She overlays each illustration with a crackle-glass web of lines. A full-scale treat for the armchair traveler. Ages 5-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
After being enticed by the first poem, readers will find this book impossible to put down. The way this book incorporates interesting geography facts in a poetic form is quite clever. These great rhyming poems tell facts about people as well as geography. Marco Polo, Ferdinand Magellan, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay are just some of the famous people included in this book. The alkyd oil paint illustrations are very well done and go with the poems to help the reader get a good visual of the concepts being described. However, the technique of aging the pictures is overdone and is a bit distracting. Altogether, this is just a fun, impressive, factual little book that I would recommend to elementary school children because it helps readers to build a visual and auditory impression of geography concepts. 2002, Dial Books for Young Readers/Penguin Putnam,
— Kirsten Kaiser
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-Terse verse, doggerel, and other rhymes ponder places and climes in this slim collection. In considering the question of "Who Could Somersault the San Andreas Fault?" Lewis informs readers, "Anyway, the road signs warn ya: No Jumping over California!" Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand Magellan, and the conquerors of Everest are here. There are a few questions and riddles, a visit to the desert, and a conversation between the equator and the two poles. Some selections are humorous, some flat. "A stalactite drips down from the ceiling/A stalagmite grows up from the ground." Jay's oil paintings, some full page or double spread and many vignettes, begin with a globe bearing an enigmatic face and hairline landmasses. A pleasing variety of views frame or alternate with the verses. They are sprinkled with tiny sketches of elongated humans with tiny heads and animals, sometimes in humorous poses. Crackling shellac has been laid across the paintings, suggesting, one supposes, old maps. Some of the place names and questions might inspire further investigation. "Did you know that all the people in the world could stand shoulder to shoulder in a space the size of the Indonesian island of Bali?" The moderately amusing exploration ends with a lovely blank-verse exhortation likely to endure into future collections: "Make the Earth your companion. Walk lightly on it, as other creatures do. -Let the Lake instruct you in stillness. Let the Mountain teach you grandeur-."-Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In catchy, clever verse, the prolific Lewis (Earth and You: A Closer View, not reviewed, etc.) plays with place names, marvels at the journeys of several explorers, goes "Island Hopping," gads about the cities of Europe, even provides mnemonics to distinguish stalagmites from stalactites, and latitude from longitude-"Lines of latitude / Have a f l a t i t u d e. / Longitudinal lines / Rise like porcupines." The crackle finish on Jay's smoothly brushed artwork seems a bit mannered, but she adds plenty of imaginative visual twists to the poems; while the Red, Yellow, and Black Seas, for instance, flow out of oil-paint tubes, the Dead Sea comes from a salt shaker, and the Poles, described as "continental / Plates of white ice cream," are each capped by a jauntily-angled cookie. Lewis closes on an earnest note, urging readers to "Walk Lightly" upon the Earth. Young globetrotters and armchair travelers alike will happily climb aboard for the ride: "Go by yourself or invite a good friend / But traveling by poem is what I recommend." (Poetry. 8-11)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.80(w) x 11.20(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

J. Patrick Lewis earned his Ph.D. in Economics at The Ohio State University (1974) and taught at Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio until 1998. In 1972-73 he and his family spent the academic year in the former USSR, where Lewis completed his doctoral dissertation as an International Research and Exchanges (IREX) Fellow.

He has three children: Beth, Matt and Leigh Ann. The Lewises were the first family to be accepted on this the largest cultural exchange program between the U.S. and the USSR. Lewis returned to Moscow and other Soviet cities for shorter stays in 1977, 1982, 1987, August 1991(during the failed coup), 1993, 1995, 1997 and 1999.

Lewis has published extensively in the field of Economics. His articles and reviews have appeared in numerous academic journals, as well as The Nation, The Progressive, Technology Review, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, Cleveland Plain Dealer and other newspapers and magazines. He has had seven short stories and over seventy poems published in literary journals. In 1991 he was awarded an Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist Grant for his adult poetry.

He is now remarried and lives in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, with his wife Susan and step-children, Kelly and Scott Marceau. Lewis makes forty elementary school visits a year, keynotes at literature conferences, and presents teachers' workshops on introducing poetry in the classroom.

Lewis has also published twenty-five children's picture books to date (1/00), seventeen of them children's poetry. Ten more children's books have been accepted and are now in production at Simon & Schuster/Atheneum, Penguin Putnam/Dial, Alfred A. Knopf, Creative Editions, and DK Publishing.

His work for children has also appeared inMS. Magazine, Ranger Rick, Cricket, Spider, Ladybug, Highlights For Children, Your Big Backyard, Storyworks, Storytime, Chickadee (Canada), Ahoy (Canada), Book Links and over sixty anthologies. Lewis was commissioned to write the 1992 National Children's Book Week poem, which was printed on one million bookmarks and distributed nationally. He also reviews children's books for the New York Times.

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