But, though they are being marketed to kids 8+ years, after reviewing the NYC and Phili guides, I believe the guides are more geared for the teenager in the house, especially given some of the vocabulary words. (I'm not sure what average eight-year-old knows the words "nautical" or "pedestal" or cares about whether a cafe offers good coffee or that a restaurant has an informal dress code.) That being said, I find that the guides I reviewed are packed with such myriad facts that they not only offer what I call the "who knew" factor that kids -- me, included -- love, but they also can be used by parents and teachers to make history and geography come alive.
In the New York City guide, even I found things I didn't know about -- and I'm a native New Yorker, like Edgar Allen Poe's cottage in the Bronx, or that the cherry trees at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden were donated by the Japanese government.
The guides are chock full of fun and useful information: New York City's Flatiron Building resembles the shape of a vintage iron; in the 19th century some 7,000 people lived in the five-storied building that's been converted into the Lower East Side Tenement Museum; the Bronx Zoo uses composting toilets to save water; and Ellis Island was once called Oyster Island. (But who knows why?).
There are plenty of yummy food options, many that I think kids will gravitate to, including the Magnolia Bakery with its array of colorful iced cupcakes, and Peanut Butter & Company, where you can get PB topped with just about anything, from bacon to marshmallow Fluff.
What I would've loved to have found in the NYC guide is a section on Hudson River Park, which is perfect for biking, jogging, blading, skateboarding (they even have a skateboard park) and learning about a host of botanicals along the landscaped route that parallels the river.
Fairmont Park included in the Philadelphia guide. (The Schuylkill River Trail is listed as a must visit; I agree. It's perfect for the family who wants to get back to nature within the heart of a major metropolis.) Among the fun facts in this guide, I was surprised to learn that the park was owned by one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence; and that the Curtis Institute of Music is more difficult to get into than Harvard University. (Who knew?) It's also lovely to find out that the Museum of Archeology has a garden growing Egyptian papyrus. This is the kind of information that goes way beyond simply viewing ancient exhibits in glass cases.
Those who visit Phili with this guide will find out that the city is home to the nation's first medical school, the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art played a prominent role in the movie "Rocky," and that Morimoto, an Iron Chef, owns a restaurant in the city-- though, with such a rarefied, sophisticated menu, it's not one suiting the tastes of most kids, that's for sure.
Overall, I think it's worth checking out these e-book guides for the wealth of information that could be incorporated into teacher's lesson plans or used by parents and teens when traveling as a way to boost the enrichment factor.