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So You Want to Be an Explorer? Hardcover – September 8, 2005


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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 1-4–Another offering from the creative team that brought readers So You Want to Be President? (2000) and So You Want to Be an Inventor? (2002, both Philomel). The artist frames the text with a wordless depiction of a young boy trying on different hats in his room filled with a variety of artifacts. The text then seems to address the daydreaming child directly as he envisions himself setting sail for adventure. Most spreads describe two or more explorers, but only one is depicted. Small's masterful artwork, done in ink, watercolor, and pastel chalk, is full of humorous details. The explorers are primarily European and American, but cover a wide-ranging time period, from Pytheas and Alexander the Great to the present day. A short paragraph describes their claim to fame. The book is intended to inspire and intrigue browsers, not to serve as a resource for report writers. St. George includes a wide variety of explorers and expedition participants. For example, when she discusses the North Pole, Robert Peary, Matthew Henson, and four Inuits are mentioned. Women such as Mary Kingsley, Amelia Earhart, and Barbara Washburn are cited. The relationship between exploration and mapmaking and the damage done to native peoples by some explorers are also touched upon. A Glossary of Famous Explorers lists full names and birth and death dates, and provides a little more information about the people mentioned. While the short snippets of information may be frustrating to some readers, the snappy tone of the text and the richly drawn illustrations will satisfy and entertain many others.–Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 2-4. So You Want to Be an Inventor? (2003), the follow-up to St. George and Small's Caldecott Medal-winning So You Want to Be a President? (2000), attracted some criticism for lionizing white males. Explorer improves upon that problem (five women make appearances, as do Colonel Peary's African American assistant Matthew Henson and Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay), but encounters another: How does one craft a light, fun picture book about an area of endeavor so closely aligned with the checkered history of conquest? Humor is one way: St. George writes that Africa traveler Mary Kingsley "studied the cannibals, and they studied her." Elsewhere, explorers are crisply divided into "good" and "bad"; "good" explorers "respect the natives," and "bad explorers can do the natives in." The glib tone may seem inappropriate to some, but teachers and librarians will still find lots of uses for this book. The annotated list of featured explorers and the bibliography will support exploration research projects, and St. George's gung-ho language combined with Small's sprightly depictions will help ratchet up student enthusiasm. Jennifer Mattson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 7 - 10 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 6
  • Hardcover: 56 pages
  • Publisher: Philomel; 1 edition (September 8, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399238689
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399238680
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 0.5 x 11.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #995,147 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mars Violet on December 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The opening pages of this large format book show a child peering under his bed only to discover uncharted territory. This lively illustration fascinates my six year old time and again. The jaunty illustrations and pages devoted to female explorers and adventurers are another plus. Unfortunately the book doesn't maintain the level of intrigue you'd expect from a book about exploration. Many explorers and adventurers are mentioned in the text but only one or two are illustrated per page spread. Without the link to a visual or a map the text amounts to little more than out of context name dropping and meaningless factoids despite the tone of excitement it sets. I end up reading about only the explorers that are illustrated.

I have another bone to pick with a book written as recently as 2005. Nowhere does it mention that Thor Heyerdahl's voyage on the Kon-Tiki raft is hotly debated. The author would have us believe that Thor's trip is proof positive that people in Peru sailed to Polynesia. Although the guy managed to pull off the voyage, researchers disregard his theories.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By The Library Lady on October 20, 2005
Format: Hardcover
There's a line in here about how Roald Amundsen learned skills from "the native Inuits" that enabled him to successfully reach the South Pole.

Now please correct me if I'm wrong, but since when are there Inuits (or anyone else but penguins) at the South Pole?

I know, I know. St George means that he learned the skills from the Arctic natives that helped him conquer the Antarctic. But the wording implies otherwise.

Does winning a major award for one of your books mean that the editors put away their fact checkers? I hope not.

This is a very nice book, but non-fiction for kids needs to be totally accurate. This isn't.
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By Independent Thinker on January 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My seven year old thought this book was awful. He is really into science and history. The book is wordy and not interesting at all. There are no fun facts about the explorers instead a politically correct drawn out questionably historic account of various individuals of the past. The book doesn't have a natural flow. The story is loose and poorly connects with the reader. We read hundreds of books a year as a homeschooling family. It is important that children's book authors find ways to hold the child's interest. Ms. St. George gets an F in this department. Asking questions to the reader and presenting strange and unusual facts are good ways to hold a young childs attention. Doing this helps the child want to learn more about the person's life and keeps them wanting more when the content gets a bit dry. This is why I am so critical of this book. Why write a childrens book that is just as boring as your run of the mill high school history book? I did give it two stars because I can not complain about the illustrations they are done well.

In my home we started with a young child jumping for joy when we started reading and by page 24 he was saying "Are we almost done?" We have read books hundreds of pages long with the same child without a single complaint.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My students are studying explorers right now. I bought this book not knowing what to expect, and I must say that this book went above my expectations. My students loved this book for its information and illustrations.
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