Book Review: Around the world in 50 ways: A Choose-your-own Travel Adventure, by Dan Smith, illustrated by Frances Castle

Available now in bookshops nationwide.

cv_around_the_world_in_50_ways.pngWe made it! And it was SOOO satisfying!

My 7-year-old son and I absolutely loved this book, which combines the fantastic kids travel writing that LP Kids has become known for, with an Amazing Race / pick-a-path format that is a total winner. I got to walk down memory lane and reminisce about my OE, while Dan enjoyed learning about new places, and figure out where he wants to go the most in the world. (Barcelona, apparently – I think it was the football, rather than Gaudi).

We start in London, then we are given three options – train, coach or boat – and land in different parts of the world accordingly. Each set of options is different, and you can choose by length of journey in hours and minutes, type of transport as with the first one or going East or West. Sometimes with a bit of knowledge the adult helping can hazard a guess at where you may end up, but most of the time it’s a complete surprise and all the better for it.

Each city we land in has several text boxes. The first is a brief introduction, and others are either a unique form of transport (one of the themes of the book) or a place you must visit while there. There are frequently short fact-boxes as well, though they could be better defined. It is written as though the boy leading the trip has organised a top-attraction visit of famous attractions, which is friendly and appealing.

As far as the pick-a-path aspect goes, occasionally you will hit a dead end and have to start again, but they aren’t too frequent, and when they happen it is never a ‘terrible death’ – an aspect of the more traditional pick-a-paths that upset my sensitive boy – more of an unfortunate circumstance, like your huskies coming un-hitched in Lapland.

The colours and illustrations are wonderful, but the formatting could occasionally be a bit more defined with lines and boxes. That said, it really doesn’t detract from the riot of colour and fun feel of the book.

As a first introduction to what world travel has to offer, along with a satisfying activity, I’d recommend this one for ages 6+. My son was just right for it, and was very happy to let me practise my tourism agent promotional patois.

Reviewed by Sarah Forster

Around the World in 50 Ways
by Dan Smith and Frances Castle
Published by Lonely Planet Kids
ISBN 9781786577559