US-based environmental scientist and cartographer Dan Ford spends most of his free time (after his toddler daughter goes to sleep) designing maps and studying new software. Last year, as his daughter’s first holiday season rolled around, Dan embarked on a very special handmade gift project – writing and illustrating a book that will help his daughter learn about maps.
“I remember thinking, maps are so important to how we learn about our world, and the way that we learn about it. People may not realize that there is a process we use just to put the round Earth on flat paper. And that the shape of the map influences the way we understand our world,” Dan says.
And thus was born Map Projections for Babies, a 16-page board book that explains a complex geography concept in a kid-friendly manner. Vibrant graphics show unique map projection examples, ranging from common shapes like circles and squares to intricate ones like hearts and butterflies. The way size, shape, and distance change on different projections is also described in simplified phrases.
National Geographic Maps’ Aly Ollivierre, an early reviewer of the picture book, describes it as a “wonderful introduction” to map projections. “The prose and illustrations are simple enough to entertain your baby, while still teaching adults a thing or two. It’s a must-have for anyone who finds joy in maps!”
For Tom Patterson, who has retired from US National Park Service and also has had a chance to review a sample print copy of Map Projections for Babies, the book represents an ideal way for parents to explain to their kids how something as big as a planet can fit onto a flat piece of paper.
“Clear illustrations coupled with concise text show how world maps come in many forms, from circles to squares and even triangles. The delightful pages will pique your child’s interest in maps,” says Tom.
Now, hoping to make this book available to as many families as possible, Dan launched a crowdfunding campaign on GIS Day, Nov 18, 2020. At the time of publishing this story, his Kickstarter page had received pledges for over 90 percent of the funding goal.
While most backers are eyeing a first edition copy of the board book (to be shipped April 2021), Dan has come up with some unique rewards too, such as a comfy baby onesie that features the phrase ‘I Love Maps’ spelled out in a toy block design or an 18″x24″ frame-mounted map art print from Dan’s startup Windrose Maps. Interested? Click here to visit the Kickstarter.