'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Tuesday 20 September 2011

Review: Not-For-Parents Travel Books

When I first heard about this new book series from Lonely Planet, my heart thundered in my chest with literary anticipation, least of all because I’m a travel-lover but most of all because I am high on the belief that children and travel are a mighty fine blend.

Fast forward two or three months and I now have this exciting new series in hand. Has it lived up to my expectations? Well, yes and no.

My very first impression with these books was how stunning the covers are – how vibrant, attractive and full of tantalizing promise. Upon opening the books, I was told on the opening pages that these books are not guidebooks. I must admit, my heart sort of sank a little.

Even though I was convinced these books were going to be ‘different’ and unlike anything else done before (indeed, the very fact that they are marketed as NOT-FOR-PARENTS, made me very excited indeed), I didn’t find them as unique as I thought I would. Due to the Lonely Planet connection I guess I did think they would comprise some sort of ‘guide’ that could be used when travelling. Something with maps, at least.

Sure, the books could be used when traveling, but they are really more of a DK-style history and culture lesson than a travel book, and I must admit, this was a tad disappointing. But once I got over that, I began to embrace the books as a virtual tour to another place through time and culture ... after all, the detail, iconic representation, history and pop-culture covered is impressive.

The books feature double-page spreads of fascinating information on kid-attractive sights and other paraphernalia in London, Paris, New York and Rome. In London, for example, we learn about the London Eye, British food, Harry Potter on Location, Jack the Ripper, the Great Plague, music and palaces, among many other treats.

The pages are interspersed with text, photos, illustrations, diagrams and speech bubbles, making page-perusing a whole lot fun. The movement, colour and layout are very well done – and much attention has been given to the ‘voice’ of the text and its content, making it appeal to kids as young as 6 or 7, as well as teens.

I guess I have to get over what I expected these books to be and appreciate them for what they are, which is an excellent series of both educational and entertaining material that will fascinate children. Well-researched, laid out and presented, these books will be priceless for schools and libraries, and anyone who wants to learn more about the world around them.

Also in this series...

The Travel Book is a large format, hard cover book covering every country in the world – and although the book is entitled 'Travel', it’s more of a fact book than a book on travel  destinations.

With one page dedicated to each country, kids will learn a handful of well-researched facts per country, including official stats such as languages spoken, population, currency and land area.

Other facts covered include such tidbits as history, culture, geography, flora and fauna and local idiosyncrasies.

This is a fascinating book for both children and adults, too, despite its kid-oriented content. Well-written, gorgeously styled with fabulous photographs and blocks of colour containing text, the book is easy to navigate and would make a superb addition to both school and home libraries.

Now excuse me - I'm off to do some serious multicultural perusing. Great stuff.

Title: Paris / London / Rome / New York
Publisher: Lonely Planet, $19.99
Publication Date: September 2011
ISBN: 9781742205007 / 9781742204994 / 9781742204987 / 9781742204970
Format: Laminated soft cover
For ages: 7+
Type: Information Book

Title: The Travel Book
Publisher: Lonely Planet, $19.99
Publication Date: October 2011
ISBN: 9781742204963
Format: Hard cover
For ages: 7+
Type: Information Book