Category Archives: Wonderlists

The World of A Book


The other day, Ms. M was so engrossed in her book that she took it along while we were on a walk. We stopped, she read, and when it was time to move on again, she looked up, forlorn and said, “It’s so hard to come back from the world of a book.” I couldn’t agree more! I’m an inveterate daydreamer and often find myself somewhere very far away, if only in my head.

My friend Susan Stewart (professor of Special Education at Western Carolina University) recently introduced me to Google Lit Trips, a great tool that lets you track the world of a book with Google Earth, placing markers on the real-life places featured in the books. Their site has a tutorial on how to use it, and aside from that, all you need is to download the Google Earth software. I haven’t tried it yet, but there’s a range of lit trips on their web site, for readers from preschool up through adult books. This lit trip for  Make Way for Ducklings (Robert McCluskey, Viking, 1965)  shows how it works.

I’d love to see one of Lyra’s Oxford (Phillip Pullman, Knopf, 2007) or the book that inspired me on my own lit trip, A Room With A View (EM Forster, Signet Classics reissue, 2009)

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The Wanderlists

I recently came across a diary entry written by my globetrotting
twentysomething self. I was pondering the idea of ever having kids,
weighing the cost of having to give up all the travel. “If I do have
kids,” I asserted, “I want to be one of those moms climbing Machu
Picchu with a baby in a backpack.” Oh, twentysomething self, how naive
you were!

Nearly a decade later, married to a fellow adventurer, with a baby,
full-time job and a mortgage, if I had ever been able to find the time
and money to go to Macchu Picchu, I thought, who has the energy for four
connecting flights? And what kind of a mother vacations where there
are sporadic guerilla attacks?

In the battle between competing passions, the score was: Nesting Instinct, 1: Wanderlust, O.

I figured my traveling days were over, or at least on hold for another 30 years or so until I would become, like, the Elderhostel queen.

What I never anticipated was that seeing the world through my kids’ 
eyes would provide the most amazing perspective about simple, close-by
adventures. You can go to a French bakery right here in the US, and
they will give you an entire bowl of hot chocolate! There are actually
underground lakes inside caves, and you can ride through them in boats
just like in the Narnia books! I wrote 101 Places You Gotta See Before
You’re 12! And 101 Thing You Gotta Do Before You’re 12! as a way to
catalogue all those accessible family adventures, and found enough to
keep us busy until those Elderhostel days. The Wanderlists is a way to
share more of what I learned in my research and connect with those
who’ve used the books for their own explorations. I can’t think of a
better way to start a blog than with polka music, so, val-der-e,
val-der-a, let’s start wandering!

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