Around the World in 22 Books

by Pat Scales

Travel offers adventure, exposure to other cultures, an understanding of history, and a chance to see the world as a global society. For many children, the opportunity to board an airplane and see the world firsthand is not a possibility, but anyone can travel through books. Libraries are filled with nonfiction series, such as Enchantment of the World (Children’s Press), Cultures of the World (Benchmark), Letters from Home (Blackbirch), and Lands, Peoples, and Cultures (Crabtree), that open the world to readers. These series books are often used in the social studies curriculum, but should also be used for recreational reading. Picture books and fiction featuring world travelers like those in the bibliography below can also add to the excitement of an armchair journey. Ask young readers to pack their bags, open their books, and begin a summer travel adventure, even if it’s in their own home.

Books for Younger Readers

 

Banks, Kate. The Cat Who Walked across France. Illus. by Georg Hallensleben. 2004. 40p. Farrar/Frances Foster, $16 (0-374-39968-9).

Preschool–Gr. 3. A cat embarks on a journey across France in search of a loving home like the one he once lived in by the sea. Along the way he sees sights such as the Eiffel Tower, a cathedral, a palace, and barges moving down the Seine.

 

Bemelmans, Ludwig. Madeline in London. 1961. 64p. Viking, $16.99 (0-670-44648-3); Puffin, paper, $6.99 (0-14-056649-X).

Preschool–Gr. 3. Miss Clavel takes Madeline and her 11 classmates on a trip to London to visit lonely Pepito, a friend who had to move away.

 

Gutman, Anne, and Georg Hallensleben. Gaspard on Vacation. 2001. 32p. Knopf, $9.95 (0-375-81115-X).

Preschool–Gr. 3. Gaspard the dog is tired of visiting museums in Venice, so he tackles the waterways in a kayak, creating a humorous tale of adventure in the ancient Italian city.

 

Jackson, Ellen. My Tour of Europe: By Teddy Roosevelt, Age 10. Illus. by Catherine Brighton. 2003. 40p. Millbrook, $23.90 (0-7613-2516-6).

Preschool–Gr. 3. These excerpts from the journal of 10-year-old Teddy Roosevelt trace the travels of the Roosevelt family through England, France, Italy, and Germany. Brighton’s meticulous and historically researched illustrations make a fascinating study.

 

Kasparavicius, Kestutis. The Bear Family’s World Tour Christmas. 2002. 32p. Abrams, $14.95 (0-8109-0573-6).

Preschool–Gr. 3. When the bear family cannot decide where to spend Christmas, they attach their house to a hot-air balloon and travel around the world.

 

Moss, Marissa. Amelia Hits the Road. 1997. 40p. Pleasant, $12.95 (1-56247-791-9); paper, $5.95 (1-56247-790-0).

Gr. 1–4. In this title in the popular Amelia’s Notebooks series, Moss sends spunky journal-keeper Amelia and her old-fashioned black-and-white-speckled composition book on a car trip through the Southwest with her mother and older sister.

 

Pattison, Darcy. The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman. Illus. by Joe Cepeda. 2003. 56p. Harcourt, $16 (0-15-202329-1).

K–Gr. 3. Uncle Ray, who lives in South Carolina, isn’t able to visit    his niece Tameka in California, but instead he sends a life-size wooden man named Oliver K. Woodman. Ray puts Oliver by the road with a note asking travelers to help him get to the West Coast, leading to an unusual cross-country trip.

 

Potter, Giselle. The Year I Didn’t Go to School. 2002. 40p. Simon & Schuster/Anne Schwartz, $16.95 (0-689-84730-0).

Preschool–Gr. 3. Seven-year-old Giselle and her family spend a year touring Italy with their own theater troupe. This episodic travelogue contains charming bits of Potter’s actual scrapbook journal.

 

Rylant, Cynthia. Tulip Sees America. Illus. by Lisa Desimini. 1998. 32p. Scholastic/Blue Sky, paper, $5.99 (0-439-39978-5).

Preschool–Gr. 3. The narrator and his dog, Tulip, drive through six states, from the farm fields of Iowa to the Oregon coast, in an effort to see America.

 

Smalley, Elisa. Zoe Sophia’s Scrapbook: An Adventure in Venice. Illus. by Claudia Mauner. 2003. 40p. Chronicle, $14.95 (0-8118-
3606-1).

Preschool–Gr. 3. Great Aunt Dorothy Pomander invites Zoe Sophia and her dog for a whirlwind tour of Venice, where they float through the canals in gondolas, see the opera house, and stand in St. Mark’s Square with the pigeons.

 

Stock, Catherine. A Spree in Paree. 2004. 32p. Holiday, $16.95 (0-8234-1720-4).

Preschool–Gr. 3. Monsieur Monmouton and a menagerie of farm animals take a holiday in Paris and tour the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, Luxembourg Gardens, the Louvre Museum, and the Eiffel Tower. Their tour ends with a raucous night at the follies.

 

Thompson, Kay. Eloise in Paris. Illus. by Hilary Knight. 1957; reissued 1999. 64p. Simon & Schuster, $17 (0-689-82704-0).

Gr. 1–3. Six-year-old Eloise, who lives in the Plaza Hotel in New York City, travels with her nanny to Paris, where she explores every sight in the City of Lights.

Wellington, Monica. Crêpes by Suzette. 2004. 32p. Dutton, $15.99 (0-525-46934-6).

Preschool–Gr. 3. Suzette roams through the streets of Paris with her crêpe cart and explores the sights while serving her customers, who happen to resemble subjects in famous works of art. A recipe for crêpes is included.

Books for Older Readers

 

Björk, Christina. Linnea in Monet’s Garden. Illus. by Lena Anderson. 1987. 56p. R&S, $14 (91-29-58314-4).

Gr. 4–7. Linnea learns about Monet’s water-lily paintings when she visits Paris and his garden at Giverny. Anderson’s watercolors appear with reproductions of Monet’s works and period photographs of the artist.

 

Björk, Christina. Vendela in Venice. Illus. by Inga-Karin Eriksson. 1999. 96p. R&S, $18 (91-29-64559-X).

Gr. 4–7. Björk’s narrative follows Vendela and her dad on a weeklong trip to Venice. The story reads like a travelogue, and Eriksson’s beautifully composed paintings, photographs, maps, and sketches make the magical city come alive with history, art, bridges, and canals.

 

Bond, Michael. Paddington Abroad. Illus. by Peggy Fortnum. 1961. 128p. Houghton, $16 (0-395-14331-4).

Gr. 2–5. When Paddington takes a vacation to France, he finds himself in the middle of the Tour de France bicycle race, among other accidental adventures.

 

Edwards, Julie Andrews. Little Bo in France: The Further Adventures of Bonnie Boadicea. Illus. by Henry Cole. 2002. 128p. Hyperion, $18.99 (0-7868-0658-3).

Gr. 4–7. Billy Bates and his feline, Little Bo, are in Paris searching for work, where they see the Eiffel Tower and Montmartre before they hop on a barge and travel down the Seine to Cannes. This title is a sequel to actress Edwards’ Little Bo (Hyperion, 1999).

 

Fine. French Kitty in Kitty Goes to Paris. 2003. 48p. Abrams, $12.95 (0-8109-4447-2).

Gr. 3–6. Fashionable French Kitty cannot find suitable millinery in her hometown of New York City, so she flies to Paris in search of the perfect hat. While there she enjoys every aspect of French culture.

 

Fritz, Jean. China Homecoming. Photos by Michael Fritz. 1985. 144p. Putnam, $19.99 (0-399-21182-9).

Gr. 6–9. In this follow-up to Homesick: My Own Story (Putnam, 1982), which depicted Fritz’s life in 1920s China as the daughter of missionary parents, Fritz writes about her return to communist China as an adult. The result is an intriguing mix of travelogue, autobiography, and history.

 

Greenwald, Sheila. Rosy Cole’s Worst Ever, Best Yet Tour of New York City. 2003. 128p. Farrar/Melanie Kroupa, $16 (0-374-36349-8).

Gr. 2–5. Duncan, Rosy Cole’s cousin, makes his first trip to New York City, and Rosy is determined to give him the Fabulous Big Rosy Tour, which includes all of the tourist sights, from the Statue of Liberty to Rockefeller Center. Expressive ink drawings reflect the story’s energy and humor.

 

Perkins, Mitali. Monsoon Summer. August 2004. 272p. Delacorte, $15.95 (0-385-73123-X).

Gr. 7–up. “Jazz” Gardner reluctantly travels with her family to India in the middle of the monsoon season to volunteer in the orphanage where her mother lived as a child.

 

Weston, Carol. With Love from Spain, Melanie Martin. 2004. 256p. Knopf, $15.95 (0-375-82646-7).

Gr. 4–7. Eleven-year-old Melanie Martin keeps a diary about her travels to Spain with her mom during spring break, where she sees bullfights and flamenco dancers and attends fiestas. Melanie makes other trips in The Diary of Melanie Martin; Or, How I Survived Matt the Brat, Michelangelo, and the Leaning Tower of Pizza (Knopf, 2000) and Melanie Martin Goes Dutch: The Private Diary of My Almost Bummer Summer with Cecily, Matt the Brat, and Vincent van Go Go Go (Knopf, 2002).

Pat Scales is director of library services at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities in Greenville, South Carolina, and is the author of Teaching Banned Books: 12 Guides for Teachers (ALA Editions, 2001).