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Not Your Typical Travel Stories

 

 

“Wherever I am, if I've got a book with me, I have a place I can go and be happy." - Harry Potter Beyond the Page: A Virtual Author Visit with J.K. Rowling

 

Let your summer vacations begin!  I love to read a story that takes me on a journey, and my absolute favorites are a good old fashioned road trip.  There are many popular travel novels, but I wanted to highlight a few that are maybe just obscure enough that they didn’t hit the popular radar.  

Alvin Ho: allergic to the Great Wall, the Forbidden Palace, and other tourist attractions by Lenore Look
(Chapter book series for kids)

As the Ho family departs for a visit to China, Alvin’s trademark PDK (personal disaster kit) causes an actual disaster in the airport’s security line. Alvin’s loving and long-suffering dad is left to explain the forbidden contents in the first of many mishaps Alvin causes while dealing with his anxieties, this time over travel, ominous clay soldiers, and dragons! Readers will get an introduction to famous Chinese sites—perhaps maybe even more than Alvin’s family does, since each outing ends up disrupted. This travel story was written for youth readers grades 2-4 but is pretty funny for all ages.  Look’s humorous and sympathetic characters combined with Pham’s delightful illustrations create a fun and successful chapter-book series.

Annie Freeman’s Fabulous Traveling Funeral by Kris Radish

Before dying from ovarian cancer, Annie planned her own "traveling funeral" with designated stops for the scattering of her remains, but leaves it to her best friend, Katherine, to assemble her closest friends.  Knowing that funerals are for the living, Annie intends for Katherine, Jill, Laura, Rebecca and her saintly hospice nurse Marie (who barely know each other) to take a break from their responsibilities to really celebrate life and get to know each other.
The road trip takes the ladies to the places that mattered most to Annie: the Florida Keys, rural New Mexico, New York City. The book is also something of a metaphysical detective story, as the women learn more about Annie in each location. They also face their own tragedies and realize that it is never too late to dramatically transform their lives for the better.

Travels with My Aunt by Graham Greene

A favorite among Graham Greene fans and a classic published in 1969.  Greene stated this was "the only book I have written just for the fun of it."  Travels With My Aunt tells the story of a retired bank manager, Henry Pulling, whose dull suburban life is forever changed when he finally meets his elderly Aunt Augusta, who then convinces him to go travelling with her. An uproarious trip across Europe followed by South America ensues, but as the story progresses the belly laughs and hilarious moments give way to deeper thematic undertones.
At its core, the book poses an intriguing question: what does it mean to lead a good life? Whether you’ve read Greene’s work before or whether you’re new to his writings, I recommend giving this book some of your time – it might not be life changing, but at the very least it’ll cheer you up and leave a smile on your face.

 

Marcia Siehr
Circulation Services Manager
Circulation Services
Kenosha Public Library