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children's literature from a pineapple-lover's point of view…

Hi again!

So I’m leaving for the west coast in less than two weeks and I thought that good picturebooks for travel would make an interesting topic. I’ve never really seen myself as the kind of person to take along a stack of picturebooks on a long flight, but the last time I flew I decided to try it out. During a 6 hour-long trip across the continental United States I brought along two picturebooks (and, okay, one novel just in case it didn’t work out): Nick Bantock’s The Egyptian Jukebox: A Conundrum and The Clock Without a Face, written by Eli Horowitz and Mac Barnett and illustrated by Scott Teplin (and John Green’s An Abundance of Katherines which I unsuccessfully struggled to get through, yet, a second time).

Every other spread in The Egyptian Jukebox contains a picture of one of the drawers of Hamilton Hasp’s Egyptian Jukebox, while the remaining spreads contain text about the drawer’s contents. Hasp, an eccentric millionaire, has recently disappeared and readers are invited to sift amongst Hasp’s possessions in order to uncover his whereabouts (the answer is hidden in the illustrations). Bantock has a keen eye for detail which made reading the book super fun—no matter where you look on the page there’s always something to see and the fact that it all adds up to something bigger makes the experience impressionable, though sometimes frustrating. If I had to name something I didn’t enjoy it would be the strong urge to give up and throw the book at the seat in front of me. Readers are given no clues as to where they should even start looking to solve the mystery (athough Bantock provides readers with the answer at the end of the book).

The Clock Without a Face is also an awesome book. From Booklist:

“Gumshoe Roy Dodge and his “confidential assistant” Gus (presumably a kid, though neither of them are pictured) have been called to the top floor of an apartment building, where the owner has been robbed of a priceless clock. Well, not the clock, exactly, but the 12 emerald-studded numbers. Every other floor was robbed, too, as the thief made his (or her? or their?) way upward. So Roy and Gus interview each successive owner, from the mad scientist to the hoarder to the time traveler. The right-hand side of each spread offers a maddeningly detailed three-quarter overhead slice of each floor…Oh, and those 12 bejeweled numbers? They’re real and buried in 12 holes across the country. This is not a joke. The codes to unlock their locations are hidden within each drawing. So grab a shovel because the real mystery is just beginning.” (http://www.amazon.com/Clock-Without-Face-Eli-Horowitz/dp/1934781711/ref=pd_sxp_f_i)

The numbers, which are hidden around the United States, are designed by Anna Sheffield and although it says grades 4-8 I spent a good two hours on it and still never discovered a single location (though I like to think I’m getting closer). Again, the only draw back is the problem of short-attention spans—you have to be willing to put in the work for a reward that you then have to travel across the country to get.

Lastly, there are the staples like Martin Handford’s Where’s Waldo? (or Where’s Wally? in the UK), Jean Marzolo’s I Spy, and Magic Eye which don’t take nearly as long to solve but provide entertainment for at least the take-off and landing portions of the flight.

Happy travels!

Mel

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