Book Review (and a Giveaway!): What a Map Can Do by Gabrielle Balkan

Posted July 25, 2023 by meezcarrie in Book Review, children, Gabrielle Balkan, giveaway, picture book / 19 Comments

What a Map Can Do book review

What a Map Can Do by Gabrielle BalkanWHAT A MAP CAN DO by Gabrielle Balkan
Alberto Lot

GENRE: Children’s Picture Book / Educational
PUBLISHER: Rise x Penguin Workshop
RELEASE DATE: July 18, 2023

An accessible and humorous introduction to maps for budding navigators.

A raccoon narrator embarks on a big adventure in this exciting exploration of maps for the youngest readers. Traditional maps of cities, roads, and parks are joined by some less conventional ones such as inside the body, each one methodically introduced with humor and clear explanation. A clever, colorful, and engaging first look at constructing and decoding maps.


Maps of rooms, neighborhoods, and cities. Bus maps. Museum maps. Road maps. Maps of the human body & a national forest. Trail maps. Weather maps. Star maps. What a Map Can Do gives little explorers an entertaining crash course on maps – what they do, how to use them, and how to read them.

As a former elementary school teacher, I loved the variety of maps covered, and I can see this being an invaluable teaching tool for a classroom or home-school unit on maps. Each new map could be a springboard for further discussion and engaging supplementary activities. You could easily do an entire lesson each on several of the individual pages, and the natural order in which the book is laid out makes that part of the unit planning easy. I was very much impressed with the number of different skills that children can learn by spending some time in What a Map Can Do – concepts like a bird’s eye view, symbols, keys, a compass rose, the difference between interstates and routes, weather terms, constellations, an index. There are just so many possibilities for how this book can be utilized in a home or school educational setting. But it’s also done in such a way that children are engaged, interactive, and having fun all along the way. Lot’s illustrations are bright and colorful with fun little things for children to find, and they serve as the perfect companion to Balkan’s text.

Bottom Line: What a Map Can Do by Gabrielle Balkan is a great resource for any home or school library, a delightful way to introduce children to a variety of maps and map skills. With the cute raccoon guide and engaging illustrations, children won’t even care that they’re learning because they’re having too much fun! I wish I’d had this in my classroom when I taught map skills, but it’s also a great choice for anyone who is intentional about having ‘teachable moments’ with the kiddos in their lives, be it a parent who home-schools, a public or private school teacher, a grandparent, or (of course) a cool aunt.

(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)

My Rating: 4.5 stars / loved it!

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Gabrielle Balkan

Gabrielle Balkan is best known for nonfiction books that delight readers ages 2–12 with curious and essential facts about the United States, animal record-breakers, and more. She lives, works, and rides bikes in Brooklyn and the Hudson Valley with her twin fifth graders and a writer husband. Connect with Gabrielle on her website.

Alberto Lot

Alberto Lot is a designer, an illustrator, and an animator. Formerly an art director at Leo Burnett and Condé Nast, he now creates visuals for several global brands and companies, as well as children’s books! Alberto lives in Bologna, Italy, with his young family, and spends his days making things that are beautiful to see and easy to understand. Connect with Alberto on his website.

Other Featured Books by Penguin Workshop

What a Map Can Do giveaway

Penguin Kids is offering a print copy of What a Map Can Do by Gabrielle Balkan to FIVE of my readers! (US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.

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What about you? What makes you want to read What a Map Can Do by Gabrielle Balkan (illustrated by Alberto Lot) with a little explorer in your life?

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19 responses to “Book Review (and a Giveaway!): What a Map Can Do by Gabrielle Balkan

  1. Nancy

    I would like to read What a Map Can Do by Gabrielle Balkan & Alberto Lot because it sounds like a great introduction to maps for children.

  2. Sue Parrish

    I think many children today don’t know what a map is or does. This looks like a good way to teach them.

  3. Regina

    This book has a super cute cover and I loved the review! 🙂 I think it’s awesome that this book can be used as a tool to teach children a valuable resource on a fun way.

  4. Anne

    A beautiful book which would be so informative, unique and special for my grandchildren to enjoy. Learning from maps is important and wonderful.

  5. MS Barb

    I would enjoy reading this book to my precocious grandsons! (7 & 4½!) Thanks for an opportunity to win!

  6. Laura DeLaRosa

    Kids should know how to read a map. In an emergency you might not have access to technology for Google maps or other apps.

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