To Timbuktu: Nine Countries, Two People, One True Story


To Timbuktu: Nine Countries, Two People, One True Story by Casey Scieszka, illustrated by Steven Weinberg

Travel, romance and finding oneself are what makes this book irresistible.  Casey and Steven met in Morocco, had a long distance relationship across the US, and then moved together to China and eventually Mali.  This book celebrates taking leaps of faith with one another, experiencing life to the fullest, embracing different cultures, and just being entirely human in the process.  Come spend a year with an engaging couple who teach, write, draw, and inspire.

Scieszka’s writing is frank and inviting.  She captures travel and the experience of other cultures with an honesty that is very refreshing.  From the rush of a new country and its own unique culture to the isolation and boredom that sometimes result, there is no shrinking away from even the bowel-churning portions of travel.  At the same time, she depicts a growing relationship with Weinberg that slowly deepens and naturally evolves.

Weinberg’s illustrations are equally refreshing with their rough edges, free lines and widely smiling faces.  As one turns the pages in the book, each new page is often a new story, a moment captured from their travels.  The illustrations help make this work very well.

Reading this would send me into memories of my own travels, thinking about times when I had felt the same or done something similar.  If you are a traveler, this book will speak directly to you and your experiences.  If you are hoping to become one, this book will inspire you to do it.

A winning combination of illustration and story, this book will inspire older teen readers to take a different course in life: a path all their own.  Appropriate for ages 16-adult.

Reviewed from copy received from Roaring Brook Press.

Piggies in the Kitchen: Birthday Surprise


Piggies in the Kitchen by Michelle Meadows, illustrated by Ard Hoyt

This romp of a book features a wild family of pigs who want to make a special surprise for their mother.  Told in rollicking rhyme, the pace is fast and fun.  The mess of batter, eggs, flour and more adds to the visual appeal and appeal.  As vehicles come down the road, the piglets must scurry to try to hide what they are baking in case it is Mara returning.  This adds another layer of frantic dashing to the busy story.  Happily, Papa steps in to save the day and help with the oven and everyone lends a hand to tidy up.  When Mama returns it is to a lovely birthday surprise.

Meadows has expertly paced this book with a frantic, wild pace that suits it to a tee.  The rhyming is enjoyable and really begs to be read quickly to match the pace of the story.  Meadows has also mixed in noises like engines and baking sounds to further add to the appeal of the book. 

Hoyt’s illustrations add a merry mess of baking fun into the book.  They are active, dripping, goopy and just great fun.  Keep an eye on the littlest of the piglets as she tries to keep up with the bigger ones, often getting glopped on in the process. 

An very enjoyable book to add to a story time about pigs, baking or birthdays.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Simon & Schuster.

Check out the book trailer: