Monday, September 5, 2011

Book Review: Planet Explorers

We are a book review kick here so today I have another review of a new series of kids' books. This series of ebooks, entitled Planet Explorers, are travel guides for kids. Great idea, right? Why didn't I think of that? These travel guides are designed for kids ages 8-12, but I could see even older kids and their parents enjoying them. 

I had the opportunity to review Planet Explorers Chicago and Planet Explorers Disneyland. Although these books are in an electronic format (available for almost every eReader or mobile device) they are arranged much like a typical paper books with a table of contents, etc. This is helpful since it is a travel book and sometimes you want to skip to a particular section. Each of the books is organized with an introduction to the destination and a little history of the locale. This information is arranged in quick, easy-to-read lists that I think would appeal to the "tween" crowd. The books then highlight many of the main attractions of the destination and offer ideas for things to do at each spot. In the Disneyland book, for example, the sections are broken up by different parks or sections of the park. In the Chicago version, many of the main attractions are discussed in detail such as Shedd Aquarium and the Art Institute. Each book also offers suggestions for restaurants and shops that both kids and their parents can enjoy. One particularly helpful feature of Planet Explorers Disneyland is the use of quick symbols to describe features of the attractions, such as S=Scary, T=Thrilling, or W=Wet (you might get soaked). This is helpful for kids picking out attractions they don't want to miss and also helpful for parents to know what they are in store for.

Overall, I thought the Planet Explorers books were fun, useful, and actually quite educational. Each book contains a lot of historical facts about the destination organized in a fun way. At the end of each book, there are quizzes to help kids and parents "test their knowledge" of the locale. The fact that these books are in an electronic format will probably make them even more appealing to the "tween" age group to which they are targeted.

Before reading these books, I hadn't really considered a travel guide for kids but I can really see the appeal of them. All kids are different, but I was definitely the type of kid who would have enjoyed a travel guide like this. I always loved learning about the hidden details of places that we visited and sharing this information with my family. I could easily see many of today's kids enjoying this too, especially since the books include links to websites where the kids can find out more information. Books like Planet Explorers also help the kids take charge (to some degree) of their family's vacation. Armed with knowledge of the destination, kids can help make an informed decision about how to prioritize which attractions they would like to see or which ones they would like to spend more time exploring.

Although Labor Day means the end of vacation time for many of us, these Planet Explorers books are great to consider when planning ahead for your next family trip. Currently the series includes books for Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Chicago, and New York City, but more titles are in the works.






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