Atlas of Remote Islands:Fifty Islands I Have Never Set Foot On and Never Will by Judith Schalansky

During Christmas break I noticed that Pamela Voelkel (one half of author due J&P Voelkel) tweeted about a book she received for Christmas-Atlas of Remote Islands. My goal in 2010 was to read more nonfiction and to find more nonfiction for my students.  I was intrigued by the title and added it to my Goodreads.  Plus, my husband is a cartographer and we have lots of atlases around the house. I figured it was about time to add one of my own.  Later that week I took a few Christmas gift cards and picked up a copy.

What a fun book!  Atlas of Remote Islands is an expose, an encyclopedia of sorts, of islands around the world that are still cut off from civilization.  The fact that these islands still exist fascinates me.  The book is divided into sections, like an atlas, based on geographic area. Each island receives a page dedicated to a cartographic representation of their location and the opposite page with a write-up of the history of the island.  The cartography is very basic and nothing to be excited about.  The colors are bizarre and actually make it hard to see the maps. But the information about island is what made me love the book. This isn’t a history book, but reads more like a narrative. It’s not Wikipedia- the islands aren’t explained in great detail.  Instead, a one-page anecdote is shared.  But I will admit I was intrigued by almost every page and found myself googling more information on all of the islands.

This is a great book to share with teens.  For those who don’t like to read non-fiction, this book isn’t intimidating and reads like a story.  Teens will find themselves wanting to know more about some of the islands and may go seek out more information about them.  What more can you ask for? The concept of the book is cool and kids will find themselves engrossed in the bizarre stories.

*definitely high school and up