The Travel Game by John Grandits, illustrated by R. W. Alley
A little boy lives in Buffalo, New York over the tailor shop his family owns. He is still expected to take a nap in the afternoon, which angers him. Seeing his frustration, his Aunt Hattie offers to play the Travel Game with him. It’s a wonderful game, but the problem is that every time they play, he falls fast asleep right at the end. This time he is determined it will be different. To play the travel game you need two things: a globe and a copy of 1001 Pictures from Around the World by George P. Smithers. Aunt Hattie spins the globe and he puts his finger down. First, they land in the Atlantic Ocean, but he gets to try again. This time it lands on Hong Kong. The book has four pictures and the two of them pretend that they are right there experiencing what it shows in the pictures. But on the way to the pagoda in a boat taxi, Aunt Hattie falls asleep! Now he can head back to the shop and help out instead of napping himself.
This book depicts a warm extended family who work and live together. Small details make the book especially enticing, from the minutiae of their lunch meal to the functioning of the shop. Grandits has created a world that is friendly, safe and filled with imagination. I especially appreciate a story that brings the power of books to transport you to another part of the world so vividly to life. Alley’s art is equally delightful. His art is all about the small details, from a crowded street outside the shop to the small touches in the boy’s bedroom. These are illustrations you will want to linger over.
This book may inspire a travel game of your own, perhaps with photographs from the Internet to fuel your imagination. A great concept, well executed and delightfully done. Appropriate for ages 4-7.
Reviewed from library copy.