In Defense of Cartoon Geography

Two out of Five StarsOn November 5, 2015, Kristin’s book, Draw the USA, received a 2 star review on Amazon.com. Well, we can’t have any of that! Just kidding. Look, no book can please everyone nor is any single book, even one of ARTK12’s books, for every student. Homeschooling parents have the task of evaluating what will work best for their child. It’s an important and sometimes daunting job. If you have multiple children what works for one may not work for another and it’s up to you to figure that out.

The reason I bring up the review is because of Kristin’s response to it. It gives a great explanation of what she is trying to accomplish in her geography books. Time for me to get out of the way and let Kristin speak for herself.


Kristin’s Response
to a Two Star Review On Amazon.com

Posted on Amazon.com December 5, 2015

The USA with Alaska and Hawaii

Thank you for your thoughtful critique. I completely agree with your premise that you cannot think or draw for someone else, and I also agree that students should confront reality in all its “messiness.” However, geography is sufficiently “messy” that most students (or overburdened teachers for that matter) find it overwhelming and neither want to learn nor teach it.

Drawing a map, like reading, or algebra, is a difficult skill to learn and if one sets an 8-year-old down with a map of the US and says “draw this,” the child will be as overwhelmed as if he were confronted with reading Shakespeare before he could read The Cat in the Hat, and will quickly abandon it. Sure, a child could understand and appreciate the story of Hamlet as well as read a map at the age of 8, but if you ask her to READ Hamlet or DRAW a map, that is another story. The intellect of a child far outpaces her skills and if you ask too much too soon from her skills you can forever extinguish a desire for more.

In this series of books I simply want to introduce children to geography by giving them a primer in the borders and locations of states, provinces and countries. By doing so I hope to invite them further into the beautifully complicated world of geography.

Are these drawings cartoons? Absolutely they are, and in the best sense of that word. The word “cartoon” originated in the Middle ages and meant what we would today call a “sketch,” something that the artist drew as he thought out, or prepared to draw his masterpiece. By engaging students in drawing “cartoon” maps I hope to give them enough self-confidence to someday give the real thing a try.


Kristin’s book, Draw the USA, currently scores a 4.7 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com based on 68 reviews.

If you are interested in seeing the entire discussion (it turned into about 9 posts) you can use the button below.

Kristin’s Response to an Amazon Review

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