When I was offered a review copy of Micronations: Invent Your Own Country and Culture (with 25 Projects) by Kathy Ceceri (Nomad Press, May 2014) I jumped at it– the topic combines beautifully my interest in fantasy world-building, and my real-life background as an anthropologist/archaeologist.
This is a book that almost makes me want to be a teacher, either in class or homeschooling, because it would be so much fun to use as the basis for an exploration of geography and social studies! Ceceri walks kids through all the things that go into making a modern country–the physical features of the land, the basics of government and economy, the symbolic elements of nation building, and more. Generously interspersed with matter of fact discussions of such topics are interesting facts and activities (which seem entertaining, do-able, and useful), and I must say that I loved the interesting facts very much! There are so many of them, and they are indeed so interesting, that the book is almost worthy reading and sharing just for their sake!
(Did you know in Bhutan there is one day every month where no one is allowed to drive, so as to cut down on air pollution?)
There’s much here a young writer (or even some older writers) would find useful in fantasy worldbuilding as well–solid world-building depends on a deep understanding of how countries work from the ground-up. That being said, the more amorphus side of a country’s culture–the history, the mythology, the kinship structures–are not part of the scope of the book (which isn’t criticism, just a comment).
I appreciated that alternatives to late stage capitalism were included, such as barter economies, but couldn’t help but feel that more alternatives could have been offered to push kids to question all that they take for granted about nation-hood! (Which is to say, this isn’t subversive).
That being said, I enjoyed it for what it was. It’s very much worth using in an educational setting, and even worth giving in a more casual way to your kid at home who has a penchant for social studies trivia!
disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher