Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Review of A Lion in Paris, by Beatrice Alemagna

Saturday, March 14th, 2015

lion_in_paris_largeA Lion in Paris

by Beatrice Alemagna

Tate Publishing, 2014. 36 pages.

This oversized picture book is a treat for anyone who loves Paris. When I say oversized? I mean enormous. Looking at this book is an event.

The cover opens upward (with the spine on top, horizontal), and you see the lion’s paws unfolding a map of Paris, which will trace his route.

A few sentences show on the plain page on top, while the page in your lap has a large picture with photos of faces and other details inserted in the drawings.

The book begins:

He was a big lion. A young, curious and lonely lion. He was bored at home on the grasslands, and so one day he set off to find a job, love and a future.

The lion begins his journey around Paris at the train station, the Gare de Lyon, and from there we get a wonderful tour of Paris, from a lion’s eye view.

I think my favorite page is looking up the steps to Sacré Coeur:

The lion’s heart was beating very fast as he continued his long walk. At the top of an endless flight of steps he saw a white castle. “It looks like a cream cake, doesn’t it?” said an old lady, smiling at him. “Grrr,” replied the lion. They went back down all the steps together.

At the end of the book, the lion finds a permanent place where he is happy.

The author explains the story in a note at the end:

The lion in this story was inspired by the statue of a lion in the Place Denfert-Rochereau in Paris. It was erected by the architect Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi between 1876 and 1880. I wondered why the Parisians are so fond of this lion. I think it is because he looks very happy where he is.

And who can blame the lion? I know I have been happy when in Paris. This book brings some of that joy back.

tate.org.uk/publishing

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of A Walk in Paris, by Salvatore Rubbino

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

walk_in_paris_largeA Walk in Paris

by Salvatore Rubbino

Candlewick Press, 2014. 38 pages.

Ooo la la! This is a book for those who love the City of Lights.

The story is simple: A little girl and her grandpa are walking around Paris, seeing the main sights. The pictures are hand-drawn colored sketches, but evoke the feeling of Paris. I was transported back in these pages.

Extra facts about the things they see are printed among the pictures. The main narrative is a simple explanation of the day the girl is having with her grandpa.

They go to a market, ride the metro, walk the streets, climb the tower of Notre Dame to look at the view, eat in a bistro, look at the Louvre, and stroll in the Tuileries, among other things. There’s a nice touch when they come out of the Metro and see the Eiffel Tower all lit up and sparkling – there’s a fold-out page which gives the reader a feeling for how spectacular and big the tower is.

This book can be enjoyed by all ages, but what a marvelous way to prepare a lucky child who gets to visit Paris. (I wonder if my boys had been prepared for the line at Notre Dame, if they would have been more willing to wait in it to get to see the view at the top with the chimeras.)

candlewick.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Review of Paris, My Sweet, by Amy Thomas

Saturday, February 8th, 2014

Paris, My Sweet

A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate)

by Amy Thomas

Sourcebooks, 2012. 280 pages.
Starred Review

In 2008, Amy Thomas had a wonderful week’s vacation in Paris. Little did she know that would lead to bigger things.

That trip was the first time I was in Paris during the summer, and it was absolutely amazing. I loved that it was light out until after 10:00 p.m., giving me several extra hours to roam back-alley streets and sit by the Seine. I was excited to discover new neighborhoods like Bercy and Canal Saint-Martin and new “bistronomy” restaurants like Le Verre Volé and Le Comptoir du Relais. I got sucked into the semi-annual sales, les soldes, and hooked on Vélib’s, the public bike-sharing system.

And then there were all the chocolatiers.

By that time, I was just as obsessed with sweets as I was Paris. I had a column in Metro newspaper called “Sweet Freak” and a blog by the same name. I knew every bakery, dessert bar, gelateria, tea salon, and chocolatier in New York City. When I traveled, I built my itinerary around a town’s must-visit sweet spots.

So naturally during that week in Paris, I researched the city’s best chocolatiers, mapped out a circuit, and then Vélib’ed between eight of them. It was exhilarating and exhausting, not to mention decadent. It was a chocoholic’s dream ride. I wrote about my Tour du Chocolat for the New York Times, and it went on to become a top-ten travel story for the year. As I was secretly plotting a way to spend more time eating chocolate in Paris, the in-house recruiter of the ad agency where I worked casually walked into my office one day and asked if I wanted to move to Paris. I was getting transferred to write copy for the iconic fashion label Louis Vuitton. It all happened so suddenly, and seemed so magical, that I had to ask: was Paris my destiny or sheer force of will?

I guess it goes to show that you just never know where life will take you. You search for answers. You wonder what it all means. You stumble, and you soar. And, if you’re lucky, you make it to Paris for a while. Here’s what happened when I did.

Now, I love Paris. And I still remember exactly the taste of the caramels we bought at a chocolate shop there. So I was predisposed to love this book, and I did.

Amy Thomas took a sweet-lovers approach to Paris and to writing this book. Each chapter focuses on a different delicious concoction that can be found in Paris. She ends up each chapter telling where you can get them in Paris, but also where you can get something similar in New York City. She uses her knowledge of sweets in New York City to good effect, and then discovers the places in Paris.

Readers of this book now have a fabulous excuse to go back to Paris. I’ve got to try some of these! One thing’s for sure. The next time I go to Paris or New York City, I’m going to bring this book — or at least the addresses from it.

godiloveparis.blogspot.com
sourcebooks.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on my own copy, which I got at an ALA conference and had signed by the author.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Review of Flight 1-2-3, by Maria van Lieshout

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

Flight 1-2-3

by Maria van Lieshout

Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 2013. 36 pages.
Starred Review

As a counting book, and as the ideal book to familiarize a small child with plane flight, this book is wonderful.

A note at the back reads, “Typeset in Frutiger by Swiss designer Adrian Frutiger. Since this distinctive and legible typeface was commissioned in 1968 by Charles de Gaulle International Airport in France, it has been in use on airport signage all over the world.”

The book begins, “When taking a flight, what do you see?” We’ve got 1 Airport, 2 Luggage carts, 3 Check-in desks. Most of the people are the iconic figures you see on airport signage, except the family we’re following. The boy has a yellow cap and backpack, and his parents distinctively come along on the journey through the airport and security to the gates and the airplane.

The numbers are fun, too. After getting to “10 Gates,” it skips to “100 Fastened seat belts,” then “2,000 Miles. 3,200 Kilometers.” And “33,000 Feet. 10,000 Meters. A million places to explore.”

The final page celebrates “One happy meeting.”

This is just a lovely book to look at. The simple font and iconic pictures are perfect for small children to easily see what’s going on. And they will be able to find the things from the book in the airport, whatever airport they may happen to visit.

I so wish this book had existed when my children were small and we were flying around Europe! As it is, I think this will spark a “Things That Go” theme for my next Mother Goose storytime. I want to let all the parents know about this wonderful book!

chroniclekids.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Review of Safe Journey, by Julia Cameron

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

Safe Journey

Prayers and Comfort for Frightened Flyers and Other Anxious Souls

by Julia Cameron

Jeremy P. Tarcher (Penguin), 2013. 151 pages.

This is a lovely little book, in paperback and designed to easily fit in a travel bag for airplane reading. I’ve never really been afraid to fly, but Julia Cameron writes in a way that makes her feelings universal, even if you’re not dealing with that particular fear.

She approaches her fear of flying with story. She tells about a memorable flight, telling us her frightened prayers she sent to God, and then the reaction of the two frightened flyers sitting in her row. She talked with one seatmate about praying to overcome her fear — and then he ended up flying back on the same flight as she did!

Once at her destination, she got strategies from friends, like postponing worrying and acting as if. Those strategies, combined with prayer and helping someone else, healed her fear of flying, as demonstrated when she took a third flight to meet her firstborn grandbaby.

The story’s nice, but Julia Cameron’s prayers are inspiring. She tells God how it is and asks for what she needs, simply and directly. Here’s one example:

Dear God, I am frightened.
Please let us find smooth air again.
Get us out of this turbulence.
Thank you for your help.
Amen.

She also intersperses quotations from others about flying and tips for the reader to try. Even though I’m not plagued by a fear of flying, this book was a lovely reminder to trust God about things I was worried about.

juliacameronlive.com
tarcherbooks.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Review of To Timbuktu, by Casey Scieszka and Steven Weinberg

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

To Timbuktu

Nine Countries
Two People
One True Story

by Casey Scieszka and Steven Weinberg

Roaring Brook Press, New York, 2011. 492 pages.

This book reminds me of Mo Willems’ You Can Never Find a Rickshaw When It Monsoons. Both are about overseas adventures taken by people fresh out of college, complete with plenty of illustrations. To Timbuktu, however, has more text, since the cartoonist, Steven Weinberg, teamed up with a writer, Casey Scieszka. It’s less light-hearted because of having more text, but it also gives a lot more information about their cross-cultural experiences.

Casey and Steven met as students abroad in Morocco. They decided, after graduation, that they would go overseas together. This is the story of their adventures.

I think they had the most fun in China, where they spent the first six months and both taught English. That section is especially fun, with the descriptions of the kids and their antics trying to teach. After that, their time was a little less structured. Casey had a grant to study Islam in the schools in Mali, and Steven was working on his art.

The story is fascinating, and you’ll learn a lot about the countries they visited. Okay, I confess: I didn’t even know that Timbuktu was in Mali, let alone what living there is like. I didn’t know there’s a language spoken in Mali called Bamankan, or much about Mali at all.

I actually met Casey Scieszka at ALA Annual Conference a couple years ago when I was fangirl-ing her Dad, and I liked her very much. They said at the time that she was writing a graphic novel. This isn’t really a graphic novel; it’s an illustrated memoir. But it’s heavily illustrated, and that makes it all the more fun. After all, since they visited these cultures I know nothing about, it’s nice to have pictures to help understand.

This is an excellent book for anyone who’s ever dreamed of picking up and traveling around the world. You can enjoy their experiences without having to get hot and dirty.

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from the Fairfax County Public Library.

Review of The Wilder Life, by Wendy McClure

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

The Wilder Life

My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie

by Wendy McClure

Performed by Teri Clark Linden

Brilliance Audio, 2011. 9 discs, 10 hours, 43 minutes.

This audiobook was a fun one to listen to while driving to work and back. It felt a little on the long side, but I handled that by giving myself breaks of a few days in between discs. The narrator sounded a little too much like a teenager to me, actually sounding a whole lot like Natalie Moore, who narrated Dairy Queen. However, I got used to her voice and rationalized that the author was indeed a lot younger than me, so it was okay.

The book is about Wendy McClure’s childhood passion for the world of Laura Ingalls Wilder, and her quest to revisit the world of the books by seeing all the Little House sites peppered over America.

Now, I’ll confess right up front that I never read the Little House books myself. I think I read the first one, Little House in the Big Woods, on the urging of Karen Iwata, my best friend in second and third grades, but I thought it was frightfully boring. Those pioneer books didn’t grab me. I remember I also gave up on Caddie Woodlawn.

However, when my sons were growing up, my husband read them all the Little House books, which he had read and loved when he was a child, and I listened in and found them not so bad at all. What’s more, we had visited the home in Missouri where Laura lived as an adult and wrote the books.

And I certainly know about loving childhood books! Some day, some day, I will visit Prince Edward Island, where Lucy Maud Montgomery set her books. Hmm. Maybe I should write a book about it when I do. Though at least Laura Ingalls Wilder had many, many home sites, so Wendy McClure did have a book-length story to tell.

I found the book all the more fascinating because right now I’m in the middle of researching my family history. I keep thinking of the old picture I saw of my grandma as a baby with her brothers in front of their sod house. I remember her telling me, “Just like Laura Ingalls Wilder!” She and my grandpa were actually born in Indian Territory in what is now Oklahoma — so quite near the original Little House on the Prairie. What’s more, lots and lots of my ancestors were pioneers and farmers, moving steadily west, so the world of the Little House books is really quite close to the story of my own roots — and that made Wendy McClure’s visiting the home sites all the more interesting to me.

And I have to admit, Wendy McClure knows how to make the tale interesting. She tells about each place she visits, the people she sees, and what she felt to see them. She explores lots of her feelings about the books and about the places, many of which any book lover can easily relate to. She also throws in facts about Laura and her family, but sprinkles them nicely so we don’t get bored.

In short, I recommend this book for anyone who loved the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, or just anyone who loves going back to the children’s books they cherished as a child. The story doesn’t have a lot of tension or a driving plot, but that actually makes it nice listening for a commute. And, hey, anyone who gets a chance to do a Little House road trip, following the steps of Laura Ingalls Wilder (and Wendy McClure), will definitely want to have this for the ride.

www.terriclarkvoiceover.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library audiobook from the Fairfax County Public Library.

Review of Dreaming in Chinese, by Deborah Fallows

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Dreaming in Chinese

Mandarin Lessons in Life, Love, and Language

by Deborah Fallows

Walker & Co., New York, 2010. 205 pages.
Starred Review

I’ve always loved books about the cross-cultural experience of living in another country. Deborah Fallows has a PhD in Linguistics, and makes her story even more interesting by reflecting on aspects of the Mandarin language and the ways they are reflected in the Chinese people and culture.

She and her husband lived in China for three years, and this book is a fascinating look at her experiences. Don’t tell, but I’m already plannning to give a copy to my nephew for his birthday — He just spent two semesters studying in China. I wonder if he will have noticed some of these same things.

The author explains why the language lens worked so well for her:

“The language paid me back in ways I hadn’t fully anticipated. It was my lifeline to our everyday survival in China. My language foibles, many of which I have recounted in this book, taught me as much as my rare and random successes. The language also unexpectedly became my way of making some sense of China, my telescope into the country. Foreigners I met and knew in China used their different passions to help them interpret China: artists used China’s art world, as others used Chinese cooking, or traditional medicine, or business, or music, or any number of things they knew about. I used the language, or more precisely, the study of the language.

“As I tried to learn to speak Mandarin, I also learned about how the language works — its words, its sounds, its grammar and its history. I often found a connection between some point of the language — a particular word or the use of a phrase, for example — and how that point could elucidate something very “Chinese” I would encounter in my everyday life in China. The language helped me understand what I saw on the streets or on our travels around the country — how people made their livings, their habits, their behavior toward each other, how they dealt with adversity, and how they celebrated.

“This book is the story of what I learned about the Chinese language, and what the language taught me about China.”

Her result is completely fascinating. You will enjoy this book if you are at all curious about people and language.

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from the Fairfax County Public Library.

Review of Four Seasons in Rome, by Anthony Doerr

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

four_seasons_in_romeFour Seasons in Rome

On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World

by Anthony Doerr

Scribner, New York, 2007. 210 pages.

Anthony Doerr won an award to come to Rome for a year to write. What a fabulous opportunity! The timing, however, was interesting — the fellowship began when his twin sons were six months old.

Four Seasons in Rome tells the story of that chaotic and amazing year when Anthony Doerr and his wife and infant sons got to live in the Eternal City. This wonderful book combines aspects of many types of memoir: the bemused blunderings and awe of a new parent, cross-cultural adventures and misadventures, musings about the writing process and the ways we avoid it, and the wonders of Rome.

I had an extra interest in the book, because the time our family visited Rome (our last family vacation as an intact family) was during the very year that Anthony Doerr was there — We were there after the Pope’s funeral, but before the next Pope was elected. So we saw a teeny tiny bit of what he mentions.

Here’s a little taste:

“Every few days there are moments of excruciating beauty. We are simultaneously more happy and more worn out than we have ever been in our lives. We communicate by grinning and pointing and waving food in the air. We don’t sleep as well as we used to. Our expectations (today I might take a shower; the #75 bus might actually show up) are routinely dashed. Just when we think we have a system (two naps a day; Shauna finds a rosticceria with chickens on spits that is open on Sundays), the system collapses. Just when we think we know our way around, we get lost. Just when we think we know what’s coming next, everything changes.”

It’s fun to vicariously share in Anthony Doerr’s experiences, not quite sure whether to envy him or to feel sorry for him — mostly glad I can enjoy it in nice comfortable book form.

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Review of You Can Never Find a Rickshaw When It Monsoons, by Mo Willems

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

rickshaw_when_it_monsoons.jpg

You Can Never Find a Rickshaw When It Monsoons

The World on One Cartoon a Day

by Mo Willems

with a foreword by Dave Barry

Hyperion Paperbacks, New York, 2006.  396 pages.

Back in 1990, when the brilliant cartoonist Mo Willems was young and fresh out of college and not ready to leap into the grown-up world of work, he was fortunate enough to take a trip around the world.

We are fortunate that he recorded his experiences in the form of one cartoon drawn each day of his journey.

He wrote a caption and date for each cartoon, and the modern author has filled in some details that inspired the drawing.

The result is a delightful and quirky window on the world, from the eyes of one of those scruffy backpackers.  I lived in Europe for ten years, so even though I was there after Mo Willems had already left, I felt like I had seen him!

On top of the interesting way of looking at the world, his gifts as a brilliant cartoonist were already showing.  He expresses the people of the world, and the experiences of travel with a few lines.  Yet the result is instantly recognizable.

Take an amusing armchair journey around the world with this book.

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