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****Storybook Travels

From Eloise’s New York to Harry Potter’s London

Visits to 30 of the Best-Loved Landmarks in Children’s Literature

by Colleen Dunn Bates & Susan LaTempa

Reviewed September 18, 2002.
A Sonderbooks' Best Book of 2002
(#3, Nonfiction)
Three Rivers Press, 2002.  263 pages.

This book caught my eye immediately, since some of our family’s most wonderful vacation moments have been when we found spots from favorite children’s books, such as playing Poohsticks at the original bridge.

When I discovered that inside there was a description of Hamelin, Germany, where we were scheduled to visit the very next day, I decided I had to buy the book.  Indeed, it helped us to find the weekly “Pied Piper” play put on in the town square. (Although we only caught the tail end of it.)

Even though many of the locations are in America, and thus unreachable to us now, I found the book fun to read.  They chose excellent and classic books, and among other things, I now have a list of great books to read and re-read.

I’m convinced the authors are kindred spirits, especially since Anne of Green Gables’ Prince Edward Island is one of the locations.  I was also delighted to see that the Boston Public Garden of Make Way For Ducklings is included.  I still keep a picture of my 2-year-old son on the statue of Mrs. Mallard taped into the front of my copy of that book.  That vacation was 12 years ago, but we still remember it fondly.

European locations include Harry Potter’s and Paddington Bear’s London, Pinocchio’s Tuscany, Hans Brinker’s Netherlands, Heidi’s Alp in Switzerland, the Isle of Mull from Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped, Madeleine’s Paris, Linnea’s Giverny, and Beatrice Potter’s England.  I’m hoping that we’ll get a chance to explore Heidi’s Alp some time soon.

The rest of the 30 destinations are in America.  Four of them are in California (like the many of my readers!)--San Francisco from Child of the Owl, by Laurence Yep and Maybelle the Cable Car, by Virginia Lee Burton; Channel Islands National Park from Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O’Dell; and San Juan Capistrano Mission from Song of the Swallows, by Leo Politi.  There are more vacation and outing ideas scattered all over America.  Even if you can’t do more than a few of the trips, it’s fun to read about what these places are actually like today.  

Copyright © 2003 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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