"The real voyage of Discovery lies not in seeking new lands, but in seeing with new eyes"
Marcel Proust

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Even Spongebob Goes on Road Trips

Talk of approaching summer day trips and vacations inspired my nine-year-old daughter and me to read Amelia Hits the Road by Marissa Moss. Moss has a whole series about ten-year-old Amelia. Reading the book is like holding Amelia’s journal in your hand.  I love epistolary novels (books written in letter or diary/journal form.) 
 Amelia’s exploits reminded us of our road trips and trips that I took as a little girl with my family. My brother and I often played the license plate game just as Amelia did with her sister:

We’ve been playing the license plate game for hours (or decades!). By the time we get to the Grand Canyon, I bet I’ll see all the states.
Like Amelia, I also bought a handmade Indian doll when I visited the Grand Canyon when I was nine years old. I remember how cool it was to pull off the highway to this dusty little roadside stand and purchase it from the Native Americans that made it.

One of our favorite parts in the book was when Amelia’s family started seeing the first of many billboards advertising the “Mysterious Place.”

1.      Mysterious Place—30 miles ahead—Stop and Experience the Mystery!

Parents are happy that the billboards will stall the kids from saying they’re bored for the next half hour, but fear the exit they will pass as the kids point and whine from the backseat.

2.      Mysterious Place—15 miles to go to this Unique and Amazing Sight

3.      Mysterious Place—Just 5 miles ahead—DON’T MISS THIS INCREDIBLE SIGHT


Do these billboards remind you of any you’ve passed along the road? It reminded us of Wall Drug billboards in South Dakota and Bridal Cave in the Ozarks. Of course, the kids in the book made the parents stop and Amelia exclaimed,

What we saw next was so astounding I’m not sure I can write about it. The Mysterious Place was—indescribable. At least, I can’t describe it, but Mom’s word for it was “cheesy”—and she didn’t mean cheddar.

There are actually many children’s and young adult books out there on the theme of road trips. I’m talking about novels and stories, not puzzle books and such (although Mad Libs on the Road is pretty fun).

The littlest road warriors can share a road trip with their favorite cartoon characters. Spongebob, Mickey Mouse, Arthur, and the Berenstain Bears all have road trip adventures. Elmo’s Rockin’ Road Trip sounds like miles of fun (grin), and even the Mystery Machine heads out on the highway in Scooby Doo and The Haunted Road Trip (seriously—I am not making this up). And for the beginning reader, there is Fred and Ted’s(not Cable) Road Trip by Peter Eastman.

Other road trip titles I found were the following:
Jackson & Bud’s Bumpy Ride: America’s First Cross-Country Auto Trip by Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff
The Popularity Papers: Bk 4 The Rocky Road Trip of Lydia Goldblatt & Julie Graham-Chang by Amy Ignatow
Road Trip (Diary of a Teenage Girl: Bk 3 Chloe) by Melody Carlson
Road Trip by Roger Eschbacher (a picture book)
Road Trip to the Parks by Michael DiLorenzo

Even celebrities have road trip stories for kids. Henry Winkler, a.k.a “the Fonz” from Happy Days has a book called Barfing in the Backseat #12: How I Survived My Family Road Trip. Woody Guthrie's book spins a more positive attitude in the book that animates his children's song, Riding in My Car. The blend of illustrations and photographs along with movable parts and flaps make the book as lively as the song. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=frRcDMGdTWM 

So on your road trips this summer, don't forget to pack some road-related reading for those little backseat drivers!  

Ok-- one for the road... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95W7cXehn6o&feature=fvwrel