Redesigned front cover of Freaky Peaks (2001)
Horrible Geography is a series of children's non-fiction books written by Anita Ganeri, illustrated by Mike Phillips, and published in the UK by Scholastic. It is a spin-off from the Horrible Histories series (also referred to as a "sister brand") and is designed to get children interested in Geography by concentrating on the trivial, unusual, gory, or unpleasant. The series consisted of 14 titles and currently has 21 titles, including specials, activity books and handbooks.
As an answer to the question "Where do you get your inspiration from when you're writing a book [in the Horrible Geography series]?" in an interview off the Schlostic website, Anita Ganeri responded:
Well, geography is about the world around you so I spend a lot of time staring out of my window! In between staring, I get information from books, TV programmes, magazines and the internet. I am also a member of the Royal Geographical Society (with Institute of British Geographers) in London. It's where all the great geographical expeditions of the past set out from. They have a fantastic library and lots of things belonging to explorers like Captain Scott (included stuffed penguins) and David Livingstone (including his diary, boots etc). The trouble is, finding out about deserts or poles etc is so fascinating, I tend to get carried away and do far more research than I can cram into the book.
The series wants to make geography less about boring maps, and more about " exploring dramatic and dangerous places: a wild world where nature gets nasty." The books aim to encourage children to learn more about geography.
Titles in the series
- Bloomin' Rainforests (2001) - (Rainforests)
- Cracking Coasts (22 May 2006) - (Coasts)
- Desperate Deserts (2000) - (Deserts)
- Earth-Shattering Earthquakes (17 November 2000) - (Earthquakes)
- Freaky Peaks (2001) - (Mountain Peaks)
- Monster Lakes (2005) - (Lakes)
- Odious Oceans (1999) - (Oceans)
- Perishing Poles (2002) - (The Poles)
- Raging Rivers (2000) - (Rivers)
- Stormy Weather (1999) - (Storms)
- Violent Volcanoes (1999) - (Volcanoes)
- Wild Islands (16 April 2004) - (Islands)
Specials are a bigger size than the other books. They are:
- Intrepid Explorers (19 September 2003) - (Explorers)
- The Horrible Geography of the World (2007) - (The World)
- Wicked Weather (2008) - (Weather)
- Wild Animals (7 January 2008) - (Animals)
- Planet in Peril (1 June 2009) - (Global Warming)
- Vile Volcanoes (3 May 2010) - (Volcanoes)
- Perilous Poles (4 Oct 2010) - (The Poles)
Two Books in One
- Desperate Deserts and Bloomin' Rainforests (10 December 2004) - (Rainforests and Deserts)
- Raging Rivers and Odious Oceans (2001) - (Rivers and Oceans)
- Violent Volcanoes and Earth-Shattering Earthquakes (2002) - (Volcanoes and Earthquakes)
- Freaky Peaks and Perishing Poles (2007) - (Mountains and the Poles)
- Awesome Atlas Jigsaw Book (Board book) - 6 April 2009
- Fantastic Flags Sticker book (Sticker Book) - 2 August 2012
In order to follow suit with the other main series in the Horrible saga - namely Horrible Histories, Horrible Science, Horribly Famous and Murderous Maths, Horrible Geography underwent a makeover, changing the covers of their books. All of the original books have been altered, though none of the Two Books in One have.
The books have received positive reception as a whole series, as well as significant praise on individual books of the series. In a review of Desperate Deserts it has been commented that "This book is great and I love it. The desert is amazing. I used to think that geography was boring but now I have definitely changed my mind!". Metlink praised Stormy Weather, describing it as "fun", "lively", "engaging", "accurate", and interesting". Title Earth-Shattering Earthquakes and Violent Volcanoes is described by Margaret Mallett in her book Choosing and Using Fiction and Non-Fiction 3-11 as being a book that "entertains as well as providing quality explanations for phenomena". The title is further described as being "organised in ten chapters" and "[using] clear diagrams and clear text and includes detail that will entertain children". Arden Academy suggested that students read the series in order to supplement their geography coursework. Creative Writing For Dummies by Maggie Hamand explains that the Scholastic series, along with Horrible Histories and Horrible Science have been hugely popular with children. "They aim to provide accurate factual information in an entertaining way, in an inexpensive paper format with black and white illustrations".
According to The Oxford encyclopedia of children's literature: Dubo - Lowr, Volume 2 Jack David Zipes, Anita Ganeri's series (debuting in 1997), along with Nick Arnold series Horrible Science (debuting in 1996), Kjartan Poskitt's Murderous Maths series (debuting in 1997), and the multi-authored The Knowledge series (debuting in 1997) "follow in the same vein [as]" and "treat their subject with similar humour [to]" Horrible Histories. Travel with Kids by William Gray describes the series as "geographical gems in this amusing series of paperbacks for children aged seven and above". According to Growing and knowing: a selection guide for children's literature by Mary Trim, "Middle Years readers...who contributed their book review to this text" enjoy the Horrible Geography along with The Knowledge and Murderous Maths. Mesoamerican Myth: A Treasury of Central American Legends, Art, and History refers to Horrible Geography as being an "award winning..series" Nature.com said that the series "brilliantly deminstrates how geography can be " fun, as well as being intellectually rewarding", while Geographical deemed it "amazingly successful". Teaching Geograghy suggested that 10 minutes of silent reading the series serves to quieten a rowdy class and can " improve their literacy levels". Essex Chronicles wrote that the series broadens the subject's appeal among youth. The Scotsman acknowledged that the reading level required to read through Horrible books such as Horrible Geography is "considerable". Liverpool Echol thought Wild Islands was " fun and informative", and liked that its accessibly was increased by being written in "short sharp bursts".
Awards and sales
In 2008, The Geographical Association gave Horrible Geography of the World a Highly Commended Award for its "great contribution to school geography". The judges liked the "fact that the book was full of ‘quirky facts’ as well as loads of useful and interesting information about the world we live in".
In 2011, Anita Ganeri was presented with RSGS Geographical Education Medal for her "Inspiring, yet Gruesome, Geography Facts". As of 2011, the series has sold two million copies and been translated into more than 20 languages.
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- Ganeri, Anita (2007). Mesoamerican Myth: A Treasury of Central American Legends, Art, and History. M E SHARPE INC. ISBN 9780765681065. Retrieved July 3, 2011.
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- "Horrible Geography of the World wins an award! - Scholastic UK - Children's Books, Book Clubs, Book Fairs and Teacher Resources". Scholastic.co.uk. 2008-03-31. Retrieved 2015-05-13.
- Royal Scottish Geographical Society (2011-08-17). "Royal Scottish Geographical Society Honours Horrible Geography Author". PRLog.org. Retrieved 2015-05-13.
- "Horrible Geography Handbook wins Blue Peter Book Award - Scholastic". Education.scholastic.co.uk. 2009-03-04. Retrieved 2015-05-13.
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- Scholastic homepage for Horrible Geography
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- Anita Ganeri, Mike Phillips collaborations at WorldCat