Aug 5, 2018


It's that time again... back to school, around the world!  Whether a child can walk out their front door and take a few steps to the schoolhouse door (as I did), or boards a bus, or walks miles on a dirt road (as my mother did), getting there matters. Many kids feel the stirring excitement of going to school in their bones, usually fostered by their parents' messages about the value of learning. 

little bee books, 2018
ADVENTURES TO SCHOOL: Real-Life Journeys of Students From Around the World is co-authored by Baptiste and Miranda Paul and illustrated by Isabel Muñoz. It makes a compelling case that this feeling is a universal experience. 

This delightful recent picture book uses imagined but convincing first-person-voiced young locals describing trips to school under challenging circumstances. This combines with informative illustrations and narrative text to reveal daily school-travel in remote areas around the world. The balance of voices/perspectives is effective in connecting and developing empathy as well as curiosity and respect. Expository sidebars include images of each country's flag, an iconic indigenous animal, and up-to-date facts about the featured country as a whole.

Author notes in front- and back-matter are helpful in recognizing the universal importance of education and the extent to which families value and support learning and progress for their children. Notes about research and authenticating sources are especially valuable, including cautions about online videos, often viral, making claims about places and people that are no longer true or perhaps never were. 
I particularly appreciated the range of locations across many continents (including North America) and the album-like double page spread at the back to assemble images and place-designations for the fictionalized characters within the book. One additional feature I would have enjoyed would be a world map marking and labeling each character with a location. I can easily see this book being used to launch a geography/map unit of study, for a classroom or for individual readers and families.

I'm pleased and privileged to say that both Miranda and Baptiste are personal friends of mine, and I was expecting to invite them to answer a few interview questions here. Before asking, if they'd have time in their busy lives, I developed a list of questions. Then I went online to search for prior interviews so that I could eliminate duplicates and be sure to provide something fresh for readers. In the process I found that Maria Marshall had posted an extensive interview with Miranda and Baptiste on her blog, THE PICTURE BOOK BUZZ (HERE). It's not surprising that some of my questions matched hers, but she had covered every topic on my list! I was especially interested in how they had divided up the writing work, and was excited to read about their process in this earlier post. Actually, Maria's questions were even more comprehensive than my own, included the same interior spread and author photos, and also provided information about upcoming books and links to other reviews.

I know when to take a step back and give the stage to others, and this is a perfect case. I also know when I've found another picture book blog to which I should subscribe, which I did (and you should, too). Please, take the time to click the link to this comprehensive blog post (Repeated HERE!) 

So, instead of an interview, I'll remind you to get your hands on this book and share it with kids. While you're at it, check out my previous post about IT'S YOUR FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL, BUSY BUS! by Jody Jensen Schaffer. Both books tap into the excitement of returning to school, and between the two of them there's something for any age!

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