The Secret of Banana Soup” by Agnieszka Chapas

The secret is out. My latest book is out. Check it out!

The pictures by Natalya Yampolsky are just enchanting. And the story? This amusing tale of two friends, Charlie and Parrot, is a colorful geography lesson for young travelers and a little treat for fans of mom’s cooking.
http://amzn.com/0692287302

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“Madeline” by Ludwig Bemelmans

Taking city trips is like drinking good wine. Either it makes you tired or you  just want more.  What an opening for a post on children’s books, right? Appalling! Delete. Let’s start again. City trips are like ice-cream. There is always a surprising new flavor to taste. And if you are not up for experimenting and risking getting disappointed, you can always go for something tried out and familiar.  Mint-chocolate-chip anyone? I can’t have enough ice-cream and I can’t have enough city trips.  (And I’ve passed both passions on to our son, by the way.) I like seeing new towns and I don’t mind coming back to  the same places. They never look the same anyway and there is always a new hidden gem to discover. From a building or a museum to a curious boutique or a park. And the best is when I can finally put away the city map,  step away from the main tourist route and finally start to see, hear, eat… the  city the way only the locals do.

With “Madeline” everyone can feel like a local in… Paris!

Madeline was smallest out of twelve girls living in a house covered with vines. Every day, sun or rain, Miss Clavel would take the girls for a walk. They would go skating in winter or to the ZOO in the summer. At night all the girls would sleep in their twelve beds neatly arranged in two rows . One night, Madeline would just not stop crying.  It was her appendix. Madeline had to go to the hospital.   And although appendicitis is not contagious,  somehow , by the following night, all eleven girls appeared to be in excruciating pain… Go figure! 

Or rather, go ahead and read this cutely rhymed, amusing classic with your children, however far away from seeing Paris you are. The plot might appear trivial, but somehow it is quite engaging and the character so endearing. The Parisian setting adds a lot,  I must say.  Are the ink drawings purely a background to the story, or do they play the main role? Either way, they basically take the reader on a virtual city tour. You  can’t help recognizing the main landmarks, like the majestic Notre Dame, The Louvre or The Eiffel Tower.

And if you enjoyed visiting Paris with little  Madeline, you might trust her as your tour guide to another great European city. “Madeline in London” is a suitable read before you go to visit the Queen of England. Or the three generations of future kings.

“Polar Opposites” by Erik Brooks

August has officially started but I haven’t even been to all the continents on my July travel pages. Hence the decision to continue the theme. After all, the summer is not over yet and there is no such thing as too much traveling.

Having settled that, I was left with another dilemma. Which continent should I take your children to next?  Luckily,  I came across “Polar Opposites”. With this book we can travel to three places at once.  What a sweet deal, right?

Alex lived in the Arctic, Zina in the Antarctic.  Alex was a big bear, Zina was a small penguin. Alex liked to get up late, Zina was an early bird.  Alex played TV loud, Zina cherished quiet moments with a book. Alex was messy, Zina neat. Despite all the differences, the two were best friends.  Naturally, they went on vacation together, even though, one preferred traveling by air and the other by sea, and one liked it cold the other preferred hot climates.  How did it work for them? Well, as best friends, Alex and ZIna were always ready to meet in the middle. How about the Galapagos Islands?

A compact story but so comprehensive.  Not only is  it a great tale about friendship and how the differences don’t matter, but also, it is a wonderful tool to increase your child’s command of opposites.  And last but not least, what a relevant geography lesson on both icy continents and the Darwin’s and turtles’ beloved islands. Looking at the speed at which glaciers melt and considering that the Galapagos Isles are said to be one of the first ones to go under the water, it makes sense to go visit as long as we can.

“Olivia Goes to Venice” by Ian Falconer

I took my own advice and I took my kids (and my husband) traveling. This year we had Europe on our map. Greetings from my very own Poland, Everyone!  We are visiting the Lake District, Mazury, a land of Teutonic castles, palaces, virgin nature and deliciously fresh local food. I fully recommend this place  for an active vacation or if you’d simply like to get away from the hustle and bustle of a busy city.

But, if you don’t mind the urban landscape and traveling in time,  your choice is simple. Any of the European cities will offer an unforgettable experience.  Olivia went to Venice, for example.

And she was mesmerized by its beauty! From gondola rides along the canals, to Venice palaces, in which she wanted to live. She even  got to meet the city pigeons. It was a closer encounter than she had expected. The temperatures were  a bit too high, but there was enough gelato to cool off. Olivia was so enchanted with Venice that she wanted to take a piece of it with her.  How about a stone from the Bell Tower? It wasn’t the brightest idea, to be honest…

If your children already know Olivia, this unpredictable, talking porker, they  might like her vacation adventure as well. It could be especially useful a story if you are planning to visit Italy and Venice with your children. The collage pictures of the city are quite realistic. Unlike the story ending, though, which might be a bit confusing. I am not a big fan of the absurd finale, although I can see how some readers can find it amusing.

 

“A is for Asia” by Cynthia Chin-Lee

If there is a continent that has never ceased fascinating me, it is Asia. The country that intrigued me first was Japan. From silky kimonos and porcelain faced geishas, to cruel samurai’s and karate, from the art of sushi to the power of zen, Japanese culture and history has never failed to attract me.  Just like India with its intense flavors, colors. It was the Indian cooking that awoke my taste buds and appetite for life. Thai beaches, Chinese tea, Middle Eastern sweets and World Wonders, central steps, northern taiga. Asia has so much to offer and so much to discover. Honestly, a lot of Asia is on my bucket list. Including learning the Japanese language the understanding of which appears to be a huge challenge.

“A is for Asia” is an interesting picture dictionary of this versatile continent, a home of oldest civilizations. “D is for dragon boats…, O is for origami…, W is for water buffalo…” From A to Z, letter by letter, the reader gets introduced to twenty-six concepts representative of  selected Asian countries. That’s how I and my son learned that batik is  an Indonesian craft, or that panda loves honey and Mongolians live in yurts. Every entry is accompanied by an expressive and informative visual, a  folk art- like picture by Yumi Heo as well as a sample word written in one of the many Asian languages. 

A wonderful introduction to Asia for children and parents alike. An irresistible invitation to this continent of colors, contrasts and symbols.