Candlewick Press, $7.99, ISBN 1-56402-853-4
Puzzle Gamebook, 1996
The Magic Globe is an educational gamebook similar to the other Magic gamebooks written by Heather Maisner, only this one concentrates on letting young readers vicariously travel across the globe to discover key landmarks and cities in various countries.
The plot, if you can call it that, is simply that your Uncle Atlas has given you a magic globe. This globe allows you to magically transport yourselves to various continents. At each continent, you will be given some tasks comparable to very basic version of the “clues” in the reality TV series The Amazing Race. For example, in Japan, you are first told that you have arrived in Fukuoka. From there, you are asked to go by a southern road to Kagoshima, where you are told that there is a live volcano nearby. Then you travel to Miyazaki, and subsequently north to Beppu where you are told that the volcanic activity nearby has created plenty of thermal springs and you can boil an egg in a bubbling mud pool. And on and on until at the end of your travels in Japan, you are told to locate the Magic Globe (always close to your final destination) and go to the next location corresponding to the color of that globe.
Nearly all areas are covered in this gamebook. Exceptions are Central America, the eastern half of Russia, Greenland and Arctic, and Antarctica while Southeast Asia is barely touched upon. The maps are hand drawn in a three dimensional manner and colorful, complete with trains and roads, vegetation, terrains, and even cute little animals. Of course, this means that the maps are not drawn to scale. They aren’t even entirely accurate – Singapore is marked wrongly in the “China, India, and Neighbors” map, for example – but the few mistakes don’t render this gamebook completely worthless as an education material, in my opinion.
There are other activities to do here. Uncle Atlas is somewhere on four pages, and you are not told which pages these are. You just have to locate him, heh. Also hidden, one in each page, are 22 items. The trouble with these item hunts is that these objects – especially Uncle Atlas – can be so small that a magnifying glass will definitely come in handy here if you don’t want to sprain your eyes.
All in all, The Magic Globe provides a pleasant diversion if you have a thing for geography.