Friday, October 22, 2010

Mission:Explore book review: 102 missions to explore your world

I was recently given the opportunity to review Mission:Explore, by The Geography Collective and illustrated by Tom Morgan-Jones.  Mission:Explore is geared toward the 9-12 age group and contains 102 missions to help them explore the world around them.  Want to see some of the missions?  Check out Mission:Explore's Flickr photos.

My Take on this book:

I read through this book and found it to contain many great adventures.  Some suggested missions were silly (such as having a conversation with a cow) and some sounded like a lot of fun and would require physical exertion (not a bad thing).  The whole idea of this book is to get kids interested in the world around them --- the outside world.  Not the one in their video game.  Mission:Explore is engaging in that several missions suggest online activity (ie: interaction with websites or twitter) and that might be a turn off to some parents.  I think, though, done with parental supervision and knowledge, sharing mission information can add another dimension to the whole adventure.  After all, our world has a long history of explorers who couldn't wait to return to their homeland and share all of their adventures (not to mention spices and gold) with their family and friends.

Another thing I want to note briefly is that this is a British book.  Therefore, there are some words and phrases that may appear unfamiliar.  For instance, "zebra crossing" is a crosswalk (unless you happen to live where zebras live and they indeed have a crossing....)  However, I do want to also point out that this in itself doesn't detract from the book.  These British words and phrases were used contextually enough to get their meaning.  Part of all good explorations is the ability to follow directions and sometimes exploration might require a little research.  If they need to look up a word or a phrase's meaning, that is just part of the adventure!

Safety:  Mission:Explore priority number 1

Mission:Explore is written by a team.  This team includes a doctor and there is a kid-friendly first aid section in the back of the book.  Aside from that, the book is also very careful to weave warnings into the missions such as asking permission from land owners before entering, not doing anything unsafe, being mindful of traffic, strangers, etc.  Therefore, the book doesn't advocate exploring willy-nilly.  The book urges safety and caution, while still providing fun and exciting missions for the young explorer to complete.

A very nice feature is that there is lots of space throughout the book to record observations, draw maps or write detailed mission reports.  It is guided exploration and encourages kids to use their powers of observation to complete mission tasks.  If the mission is to meet the neighbors, then they are asked to include details about where they are from and what they like to do in their mission notes. In this sense, it acts like a journal of missions completed.  It is meant to be written in and well-loved. 

Buy it in Paperback!

This book is meant to be taken with the child on their missions, therefore, it comes as a paper back.  It's only 4 ounces shipping weight, so it is very light to carry on grand adventures. Mission:Explore is available at Barnes and Noble for $12.99 or can be purchased slightly cheaper if you purchase it online.  This book would make a nice birthday gift or Christmas present for the young explorer in your life.  It would also be a good book to give a child at the beginning of summer when you start to hear those infamous words, "I'm bored.  There's nothing to do!"

Disclosure:  I evaluated a digital copy of Mission:Explore. Access to the digital copy was provided at no cost to me for the purposes of facilitating this review.  I was not compensated for this review and the opinions stated herein are 100% my own.  None of the links provided in the body of the text above are affiliate links that would provide me with a material benefit, but are instead included to provide links to information relative to the book reviewed herein.
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