How I Learned Geography

by Uri Shulevitz

read March 2009

how-i-learned-geographyThis book was totally different than what I expected.  I actually enjoyed it more than I thought I would.  I suppose you would classify this as historical fiction.  It is the author’s retelling of his childhood experiences.  As a four-year-old boy, his family was displaced from their home in Warsaw, Poland, during the Warsaw blitz.

His family is starving and poor and in a Jack in the Beanstalk-like move, his father takes the money meant to buy their dinner and instead buys a map.  His family is of course furious with him, but he tacks the map up onto the wall anyways.  The young boy begins to take interest in the map and spends time staring at it, drawing it, singing songs about it and then daydreaming.

The boy spent his time walking through sandy beaches and then hiking frosty hills.  The map, in a way, helped him survive his hunger and fear of his boyhood.  Daydreaming of the map, is quite literally, hoe he learned geography.  This book is one of this years, 2009, Caldecott Honor recipients.  Shulevitz also recieved Caldecott Honors for his books, Snow and The Treasure and a Caldecott Award for The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship.


Themes: war, hunger, homelessness, peril

Characters: Father, Mother, narrator of the story as a young boy

Setting: 1939 Turkestan during World War II

Topic: A young boy and his family flee war-ridden Warsaw, Poland for Turkestan.  The boy, having no toys, spends his time daydreaming about the places on the map on his wall.


~ by jennifermorrill on March 30, 2009.

2 Responses to “How I Learned Geography”

  1. […] How I Learned Geography by Uri Shulevitz […]

  2. My book club read all the Caldecott’s but this was one that I didn’t get my hands on. I’m not eager for it, but maybe if it falls in my lap one day, I’ll look at it.

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