Travels With My Family|
by Marie-Louise Gay and David Homel
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by Olga Stein
Growing up, I was always acquainted with some kid whose parents were strange and wonderful. They liked to travel with their children, and would always travel somewhere exotic¨not to get away but to explore and learn about new places. Travels with my Family is about parents like that. Both parents are writers, and both are willing to venture where no other sane parents would, especially with two young kids (who would prefer a trip to Disney World, or any other 'ordinary' vacation spot). And that's what makes this book such a delight.
Written from the point of view of the eldest of the two boys, the book is a humorous recounting of the various trips the family has taken. As related by the young, slightly sardonic narrator (probably nine or ten years old), the trips become a string of narrow escapes from unforeseen contretemps: Hurricane Bob in Maine, a surging tide on Tybee Island in Georgia, a too-close-for-comfort experience with a huge alligator in Florida's Okefenokee Swamp, an Arizona sandstorm that intercepts the family as they head to the Canyon de Chelly, flying bullets and the latest violent uprising in Chamula, Mexico, and so on. The least perilous trip turns out to be a visit with, George, a family friend, at his sheep farm on Salt Spring Island. There the family meets Tuco, the fabulous, mischievous parrot who can mimic any sound, even the ring of a telephone. I happen to know "George" because his Tuco is famous. The poet Joe Rosenblatt has written a lengthy, impassioned ode to him.
Geographic and scientific tidbits are cleverly embedded in each story, often within some funny-in-retrospect detail that is part of a funny, well described larger picture. Readers won't even notice they're learning something.
Going by Travels With My Family, David Homel, writer and translator, and his author-illustrator wife, Marie-Louise Gay, should collaborate more often. ˛