How I Learned Geography by Uri Shulevitz
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A young boy and his parents flee their country with only the clothes on their backs during the war, winding up as refugees in a new land with hot, dusty summers and cold winters. They are given shelter by strangers but the adjustment is difficult, with little food to eat and no toys for the boy to play with. When the father goes to the market one day to buy bread and returns instead with a large world map, the boy and his mother are confused and angry. But over the course of time, the map provides the boy with endless opportunities to use his imagination for forgetting about his hungry stomach and escaping to exotic countries.
What is special about this book is that the pictures can tell the story virtually by themselves. In one of the illustrations, the boy’s family appears off to the side, dressed in black, like mourners, exiles as they walk into the village where men sit in brightly colored clothes or with confidence walk the streets. It is also interesting that no other children can be seen.
I love how this story challenges readers to redefine or rethink what it means to be wealthy and what we think it means to be poor. Even though the Shulevitzes did not have much money to spend, certainly not on luxuries, their son was rich in imagination and passion, and what seemed to be a frivolous purchase turned out to be a life altering, enriching gift.