Category Archives: travel

Go West, Pigeon!

“What had seemed a wonderful idea –une grande aventure, as my friends put it- began to feel like an ill-conceived fantasy that should have provided fifteen minutes of amusement before being discarded.”

~Alice Steinbach, Without Reservations

The above quote, from my absolute favorite travel memoir, is the perfect description for how I feel right at this moment.  In less than two weeks my family is setting off on our very own une grande aventure -and I have reached the point where I am officially certain this was the worst possible idea ever.  The long winter days entertaining the fantasy of cross-country travel, exploring each region with enthusiasm and wonder, has given way to visions of disaster at every turn.  My nightmare version makes Clark Griswold’s trek to Walley World look like a dream vacation.

However, despite my nerves and last minute anxiety fueled regret, we are actually going to visit 24 states across the U.S.A.   I’m nothing if not a planner.  We have reservations, tickets, meal ideas.   We have packing lists, travel companions, and an endless supply of hard copy and audio books.  We’ve paid the bills, hired the lawn boy, and found loving dogsitters.  I’ve covered everything – I think.  And still I feel extremely unprepared for this leap into such a long vacation with so many unknowns.

In order to keep a handle on this trip and my insanity I’ve done two things – look to others who have tackled extended travel and read books.   I keep referring back to a post from January, 2015 – Of Phileas Fogg and other world travelers – which highlights the amazing travel adventures of several families.   When I feel a panic attack about to strike I grab my copy of 360 Degrees Longitude or log on to Taking On The World and find comfort in those that have gone before me – and on a much grander scale.  Through their stories I am reminded of the reasons we are taking this adventure – and comforted that, although challenges will find their way into our carefully planned itinerary, when they arise we will handle it.  That’s my story, and for now I’m sticking to it.  From the mountains to the prairie, to the oceans…..we are doing this.   Check out the next post for the books we are all reading, how each of my children intend to chronicle this adventure, and check back to follow us on the Pigeon’s Cross-Country Journal page.


Filed under cross country, RV travel, travel, United States

Spring Break Lament


It is the back half of Spring Break.  The time when we are counting down the days rather than relishing the lazy mornings we have left.  And we didn’t travel.  Which is fine.  Actually lots of “to-do’s” around the house finally got taken care of, more than a year after we moved in.  So I ought to feel satisfied, accomplished.  Unfortunately, staring out the window (of my new improved “office”, one of those “to-do’s” no longer on the list), I am pretty depressed by the dank gloom of an extremely cloudy, rain filled day and yes, wishing I was somewhere else.  Anywhere.  It doesn’t help that Facebook is reminding me at every turn that friends and family are joyously embarked on adventures far and wide.  From sunny Florida, and a multitude of theme parks, to those pounding the pavement in NYC, I am envious of every one of them.  I’ve seen photos of the welcome signs of Spring that come early to the Mid-Atlantic region, caught glimpses of Mid-Western college visits, and felt my black heart shrivel with envy at the South-Western US road trip that included the Grand Canyon.  So what is a travel hungry, stuck at home in the rain, planner and reader to do?  My plan of attack is two-fold.  First, work on our next trip.  Luckily, it’s a big one – and requires lots of research to keep me occupied for a while.  Second, I’ll pick up a book about somewhere else.  As break winds down I intend to indulge in some pre-internet “virtual” travel and choose a book that will transport me to an exotic locale.   Perhaps I’ll be inspired to incorporate a themed music, art or a cooking project into these final days before returning to school.

Looking for a literary-fueled expedition?  Check out one of the books below, a random sampling for a variety of ages and reading levels, all of which are sure to provide at-home adventure.

tootandpuddletopworldTop Of The World: Toot & Puddle by Holly Hobbie –  Toot is missing!!! He went out for a walk and didn’t come back.  Now it is up to Puddle to break out of his comfort zone, leave Woodcock Pocket, and find Toot wherever he may be.  It is going to take a train, plane, bus and a lot of bravery but Puddle is determined to conquer his fears and find his friend because together they can do anything! PB

ab3Amelia Bedelia Chapter Book #3: Road Trip by Herman Parish – Amelia and her family are off on an adventure!  And with Amelia it is sure to be filled with hilarious misunderstanding and fantastic hijinks.  Entertaining, funny, and perfect for those young readers who are ready to go “off to roam” – or is it “off to Rome?”  ER-2

snapSnap by Ellie Rollins –  Danya’s family is struggling financially and the only solution is to sell her pet pony, Sancho.  Danya refuses to let that happen!  Her solution? Head off with her best friend Pia and an epic jouney to reach her grandmother in Florida – who she is sure can solve all their problems.  For another road-trip adventure check out Rollins other book, Zip.  MR-3/4

13littleblueenvelopes13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson – Ginny loved her free-spirited Aunt Peg.  She was exciting, exotic and everything Ginny’s stable “normal” boring life longs to be.  Her sudden death leaves Ginny wondering if the life Aunt Peg lived was really all it seemed, and if anyone really knew her Aunt at all.  It seems Aunt Peg wants Ginny to find the answer to those questions in a most unusual way.  Her final gift to her 17 year-old niece is an envelope with $1000 and 13 little blue envelopes that will take Ginny across Europe on a voyage of discovery – where the person she might learn the most about is herself. YA

toutsweetTout Sweet: Hanging Up My High Heels for a New Life in France by Karen Wheeler – Karen’s seemingly perfect life – successful career, fashionable wardrobe, gorgeous boyfriend – takes a nose dive when said boyfriend breaks her heart.  Looking to reinvent herself and her life she moves from her high-end London flat to a run-down house in France.  Shockingly, not everything goes as planned and although she doesn’t exactly find her happy ending her comical and heartwrenching journey just might lead to happily every after.  MBS

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Super Series – Century Quartet

Four kids.  Four cities.  And the fate of the world at stake.

Seemingly brought together by coincidence Harvey, Mistral, Sheng and Elettra discover that they are part of an ancient mystery that must be resolved every hundred years.   If they fail, disaster awaits.  They’ll need each other to survive and succeed – their lives depend on it.  Written by Italian author Pierdomenico Baccalario, this series is filled with history, mystery, action, danger, and friendship and makes for an exciting journey around the globe. MR-5/6

century1Ring of Fire (Century Quartet, Book 1) –  A strange mix-up in hotel reservations bring Harvey from New York, Mistral from Paris and Sheng from Shanghai to Elettra’s family hotel in Rome, where they all have to share a room.  Stranger yet the kids discover they all have the same unique birthday.  Is their meeting really just coincidence?  Then, a mysterious man asks them to take care of a briefcase for him.  But when the mystery man winds up murdered, things take a decidedly sinister turn.  Now there is no going back, for once the four new friends open the briefcase and begin the hunt for the Ring of Fire – a centuries old center of power – they’ll travel throughout Rome’s most secret places on a life or death mission relying on their wits and each other to survive.

century2Century #2: Star of Stone – Reunited in New York the four friends discover that the professor who sent them all over Rome isnt’ done yet.  This time a series of coded postcards provide the clues necessary to send Harvey, Mistral, Elettra and Shang throughout hidden New York City on a quest of the Star of the Stone – another ancient and powerful object.  However, new threats are at every turn and this quest will be anything but easy.

century3Century #3: City of Wind – This time it’s Paris, Mistral’s home turf!  A gift from a friend of Harvey’s father turns out to be the key to unlocking the mystery to yet a third object of power.  The gift, a clock once owned by Napoleon, takes the four friends throughout Paris’ museums and famous churches on a race to discover its hidden secrets.  But this time they’re not alone, and someone sinister is keeping an eye on their every move.

century4Century #4: Dragon of Seas – Across Shanghai the four friends, led by Shang, search for the fourth and final piece of the puzzle to save the world – for at least another century. With only an odd collection of seemingly useless items to help in their quest for the Pearl of the Sea Dragon, the kids begin to rely on strange visions that Shang is having, which lead them throughout the city on their final quest – for they will succeed or surely perish as the danger is the worst they’ve faced yet!

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Filed under Action, Adventure, Middle Reader, mystery, series, travel

Super Series – Agatha: Girl of Mystery

It’s easy to see why she pops up on nearly every page, because she’s traveling the world solving mysteries on almost every continent.  The very definition of a “super series”…..

Agatha: Girl of Mystery by Sir Steve Stevenson

Twelve year-old Agatha Mistery is called on by her cousin Dash to help him solve mysteries and complete assignments from his prestigious academy – the Eye International Spy School.  Jet-setting around the world, Agatha uses her remarkable photographic memory, Dash’s cool spy school gadgets, and the help of her intrepid former-boxer butler, Watson to gather clues and solve crimes.  Exploring locations across the globe – from Egypt to Scotland to Niagara Falls – Agatha tackles curses, heists, treasures and murder.  This exciting series keeps readers turning the pages while introducing diverse and exciting locales around the world. ER/3-RA

agathamystery1The Curse of the Pharaoh #1   In this debut story Agatha is off to Egypt to recover a missing artifact from an archaeological dig in the Valley of the Kings.


agathamystery2The Pearl of Bengal #2  Agatha heads to India to discover the truth behind the theft of the Pearl of Bengal.  With the help of Dash, Watson and her Uncle Raymond, a wildlife photographer, Agatha is sure to solve the crime.

agathamystery3The King of Scotland’s Sword #3  A missing sword leads Agatha to Scotland where she tackles mysterious curses and frightening ghosts to solve the mystery.


agathamystery4The Heist at Niagara Falls #4  A jewel heist takes Agatha to Niagara Falls where she and Dash encounter Canada’s most notorious thief.  Can they take on this mastermind criminal and return the jewels to their rightful owner?

agathamystery5The Eiffel Tower Incident #5 The stakes are higher in the city of lights….this time it’s murder.  Agatha and Dash rush to Paris to solve the mysterious murder of a Russian Diplomat.  As they travel the streets they only have the clue “Red Rose” to guide them in catching the culprit.

agathamystery6The Treasure of the Bermuda Triangle #6  A missing gold Mayan calendar leads Agatha on another adventure, but this time solving the mystery isn’t the only challenge- the Bermuda Triangle has it’s own mysteries and dangers that Agatha and Dash must contend with.

agathamystery7The Crown of Venice #7  – The Crown of Venice is missing!  This famous ancient artifact was stolen during carnival and everyone is a suspect!


agathakenyaThe Kenyan Expedition #8  – A rare giraffe has disappeared and it is up to Agatha and Dash to help find it.  Luckily they have a cousin who is a safari expert who can team up to help solve the mystery!


agathahollywoodThe Hollywood Intrigue #9  – Someone is trying to sabotage the Hollywood movie set for the new action film, Fatal Error.  It is up to Agatha and Dash to save the movie, and save the day!

agathanorwegianThe Crime on the Norwegian Sea #10  – It is hard work solving mysteries, so it makes sense that Agatha deserves a vacation!   But there is no rest for our intrepid detective, or her cousins!  They have to stop a spy, steal secret documents and prevent a murder – can they do it without getting caught?

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Filed under Early Readers, mystery, series, travel

The Third Sighting of Nellie Bly

I am a strong believer in signs.  If something comes into your sphere take note, for it is likely meant to guide you towards your destiny.  Ok, so mildly melodramatic.  It could be that once I hear or see something my subconscious is more aware of it and takes note.  But what fun is that?  I’d rather interpret it as signs, a nudge to take action, or even fate.

Today I came across the third (yes, the third time seals the deal for me) reference to Nellie Bly in the past couple weeks and I knew it was fated that I post about this intrepid-journalist turned world-traveler.  I admit, although I had heard the name before, I knew little of Ms. Bly’s adventures.  The first mention of her was on a educational television program that provides insightful historical anecdotes.  Ok, fine.  I watch Drunk History religiously.   It’s as close to reality TV as I get, and it’s for history geeks!   So this is where Nellie Bly, and her counterpart Elizabeth Bisland, first crossed my path.  Then, just a few days later I attended the Rochester Children’s Book Festival, where author/illustrator Matt Phelan was signing books.  When I came to his table what should I discover, but his graphic novel Around the World– which depicts the story of Nellie Bly!  Hmmm…twice in one week?  Coincidence perhaps, but I wasn’t ready to dismiss her just yet.  And today, a post in my Facebook feed from A Mighty Girl (one of my favorite sites to follow) heralded the anniversary of  the start of Nellie Bly’s around the world trip, which she began on November 14, 1889.

Clearly it was meant to be.  I encourage you to check out these inspiring stories about Nellie Bly,  a 24 year-old female journalist who, over 125 years ago, took on the challenge of beating Jules Verne’s fictional journey Around the World in 80 Days.

daringnellieThe Daring Nellie Bly: America’s Star Reporter – Author Bonnie Christensen shares the story of adventurous and groundbreaking journalist Nellie Bly, as she reinvents the rules to become one of the most famous and influential investigative journalist in history.  (ER-2/RA)

aroundphelanAround the World – Matt Phelan’s intriguing graphic novel recounts three amazing journeys around the world – all more than 100 years ago!  Travel the high seas with Joshua Slocum, the first man to sail around the world alone, hop on a bicycle with Thomas Stevens as he pedals his way across the globe,  and follow journalist Nellie Bly as she takes on a record-breaking challenge and becomes a celebrity of the times.  (MR-5)

blyinvestigativeNellie Bly and Investigative Journalism for Kids: Mighty Muckrakers from the Golden Age to Today – Ellen Mahoney brings to life the story of Nellie Bly, and her exploits as one of the first investigative journalists in the United States.  Highlighting Bly’s influence, and following the evolution of this new form of journalism and it’s headline makers up to modern day, this is an excellent introduction to Bly and her counterparts that changed journalism forever.  (MR- 5)

72 days blyAround the World in Seventy-Two Days and Other Writings – The collected works of Nellie Bly, including the travelogue of her unchaperoned journey around the world in 1889. (YA+)



blybislandEighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World – by Matthew Goodman. Follow the voyages of journalists Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland as they attempt to best Jules Verne’s hero Phileas Fogg and journey around the world in less than 80 days. Traveling in opposite directions, the two female journalists, pioneers of their day, keep readers at home enthralled with tales of their exploits and discoveries, as they journeyed through foreign lands competing against each other, and time, to be the first to return to New York.  (YA+)

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Filed under History, Journalism, travel

Marooned Without A Compass

Today is “Marooned Without A Compass Day”.  I love a holiday, any holiday, so I enjoy that there is a designation for pretty much every day of the year should you choose to celebrate. I’m a particular fan of “Talk Like A Pirate Day” (Sept. 19) and “Squirrel Appreciation Day” (Jan. 21).


Now I realize that today, “Marooned Without A Compass Day”, I could go all existential and talk about the deep emotional feelings of being adrift in life without guidance or direction, searching for meaning and fulfillment, alone and trapped in an existence made of chance or misfortune. Or there is the whole “moral compass” angle to consider.  Or I could wax poetic as a travel-blogger about going forth to discover the world without plans or preparation to fully immerse yourself in genuine (or scary, unsafe, life-threatening) experiences.

What fun is that? I prefer to embrace this holiday with the same attitude that I give to “Name Your Car Day” (Oct. 2)*, with a bit of humor and irreverence. Today I choose to pay tribute to those literary characters who really were “marooned without a compass”.  Check out these classic, and not-so-classic stories of shipwreck, deserted islands, and survival.

gsshipwreckedShipwreck on the Pirate Islands –  In the 18th book in the Geronimo Stilton series we find our intrepid mouse hero stranded on a deserted island, searching for buried treasure.  How Geronimo, who seems to long for a quiet life in Mouse City, always winds up in the most precarious situations is a mystery – but always a fun read! (ER-2)

shipwreckedsailorThe Shipwrecked Sailor: An Egyptian Tale with Hieroglyphs – by Tamara Bower is the retelling of a centuries old tale, discovered on papyrus, written in hieroglyphs, that tells of a shipwrecked sailor who soon discovers he is not alone. He befriends a mystical serpent prince who bestows riches upon the sailor to take back to the King of Egypt when he is finally rescued.  (MR-3/4)

maroonedpirateMarooned On The Pirate Coast – by Melinda Rice is part of the Lone Star Heroines Series, focusing on Texas state history.  I’ve included it because the main character is 11 year old Georgina, who is shipwrecked off the coast of Texas, near Galveston, and learns to survive with help from the Karankawa tribe.  And she is rescued by famous pirate, Jean Laffite!  This story of a strong female heroine holds a place among the boy-centered stories!  (MR-3/4)

shipwreckedjapanShipwrecked!: The True Adventures of a Japanese Boy– Rhoda Blumberg enthusiastically brings to life the story of 14 year-old Manjiro.  In the early 1800’s Manjiro’s fishing boat is shipwrecked 300 miles away from his home in Japan.  He knows, due to the laws of the time, that he can never return.  When he is finally rescued by a whaling ship, Manjiro takes a chance to go where no Japanese person had gone before, to America!   In his quest to understand American culture, receive an education and undertake amazing adventures Manjiro becomes a hero in his homeland.

robinsoncrusoeRobinson Crusoe – The ultimate, classic shipwreck story, written in 1719 by Daniel Defoe, is a survival booklist must-read.  Crusoe is by far the most famous literary character ever to be “marooned without a compass”.  This novel, told in journal form, of his struggle for survival is required for anyone looking for deserted island adventure . (MR-5 – click here, Robinson Crusoe, for the unabridged YA/Classic version)

swissfamilyrobinsonThe Swiss Family Robinson – If being shipwrecked alone is a bit much to handle, there is always Johann D. Wyss’ tale of the Robinson family, who find themselves stranded on a tropical island.  Together, with their wits, ingenuity, love – and quite a few supplies they salvage from the wreckage of their ship – they make a home out of the uninhabited jungle.  (MR-5 – click here, The Swiss Family Robinson, for the unabridged version – Classic/YA/MR-6&up)

*I just got a new car this week. We haven’t named him yet, but I doubt we’ll wait for next October before christening him with a delightful moniker which will hopefully embody all the awesomeness that is a minivan.

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Filed under classics, Holiday, travel, Uncategorized

A Revolutionary Birthday Celebration

Shakespeare had a milestone birthday this year, and since my big 4-0 deserved a getaway, then her entry to the teenage years definitely warranted a trip.   So we decided to take her away for a weekend- without her sisters.  Choosing a nice city about 3 hours from our house with culture, shopping and dining was sure to set the stage for a memorable 13th birthday.  And then some spontaneous internet surfing resulted in a discovery that Shakespeare’s favorite ukulele playing artist happened to be playing a concert the exact night we were planning to be away – in a city 6 hours from home, in the opposite direction from where we were planning to go.   What to do?  Easy decision.  We scrapped plan 1, pulled in some serious family favors to get babysitting for HuskyGirl and WeezyJean, and took off for a 24 hour whirlwind trip to Boston.

Not only did this trip enable us to take Shakespeare to see her very first concert, but she’s also a bit of a Revolutionary War fanatic.  In Kindergarten each child was given a turkey-shaped cut-out to “disguise” for Thanksgiving – so as not to get eaten.  Among the wall of turkeys decorated like Hannah Montana and Spiderman was one lone turkey with a cotton-ball wig and dollar-bill visage.  Her turkey was George Washington, and her paperback copy of Magic Treehouse’s Nonfiction Companion to Revolutionary War on Wednesday eventually fell apart from so many readings.

Boston, the birthplace of the American Revolution, was the perfect place to spend her birthday weekend.  Beginning at Boston Common we walked the entire Freedom Trail.   We saw the final resting sites of her favorite revolutionaries- yes, she has favorites- their stomping grounds, their homes, and their places of worship.  Looking up at the balcony of the Old State House, where the Declaration of Independence was read for the first time in Boston, I literally had chills.  After the most amazing cannoli ever, eaten in the North End, we climbed 294 excruciating steps and stood at the top of the Bunker Hill Monument.  Our journey placed us in the footsteps of American history’s greatest patriots.

I also connected with my daughter in a way that we hadn’t for a while.  As she’s growing up it is really fun to engage in shared experiences  – complete with inside jokes, which had us in stitches.  It was exciting to let her determine our plans, and although I find it hard to let go of control, I loved seeing her advocate for her interests.  Not only did everything turn out perfectly, but I did things I would never have chosen myself.

Take some time this summer, with a vacation or stay-cation, to stage a revolutionary getaway – one that indulges the passions of your younger travelers.  Allow them to overthrow the adult planning tyrants and determine their own vacation destiny.  Not only will they be empowered and enthusiastic about the trip, but chances are you’ll learn more about them than you ever imagined, and be awed in the process.

Check out these “revolutionary reads” that support a trip to Boston’s Freedom Trail.

paulreveresridePaul Revere’s Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow – The classic poem chronicling the events of April, 1775 that officially started the American Revolution.  This is a must read if you plan to stop at the Paul Revere House and Old North Church PB  *PBP Note: During our Freedom Trail visit we determined that Longfellow just couldn’t find a rhyme for William Dawes or Samuel Prescott, and that’s why we remember Revere above the others who rode that fateful night.  We also attempted to re-write the poem to include the slighted men, much to our amusement.   We challenge you to give it a try!

youwouldntbebostonteaYou Wouldn’t Want to Be at the Boston Tea Party!: Wharf Water Tea You’d Rather Not Drink by Peter Cook – An engaging overview of the events that lead to Boston’s rise as the center of the pre-revolutionary colonial conflict. Meet the Sons of Liberty and discover their motivation to break from England, and the risks involved. ER-2/3

johnnytremainJohnny Tremain by Esther Forbes – As a silversmith apprentice 14 year-old Johnny is injured trying to make a sugar basin for John Hancock. His despair threatens to destroy him, until a good friend pulls him into the heart of the Sons of Liberty and he finds purpose in the Revolutionary cause.  Newbery Medal Winner 1944.   MR – 5/7   *PBP Note: Just a block off the official Freedom Trail you’ll find the only remaining part of Province House, the residence of Massachusetts colony’s royal governors – the back stone steps that led to the formal gardens. These steps brought to life a vision of Johnny Tremain visiting Cilla at the Lyte’s house.  And isn’t that what great historical literature does? Bringing facts, dates, and even cold stone steps into fully-formed impressions of past human struggles.  

sarahrevereThe Secret of Sarah Revere by Ann Rinaldi – Rinaldi, a master of historical fiction for the YA set, shares the struggle for independence from the point-of-view of a young woman whose father was a leading revolutionary.  Sarah Revere reflects on the struggles leading to the American Revolution, as she faces challenges at home with her family and her emerging role as a young woman of Boston.  Check out Ann Rinaldi’s other books for riveting female perspectives 5thofmarchthroughout history, including The Fifth of March which brings to life the events surrounding the Boston Massacre. MR- 5/7


reginasilsbyRegina Silsby’s Secret War  by Thomas J. Brodeur – Looking for a little sinister supernatural with your history?  Rachel Winslow witnesses the Boston Tea Party and she narrowly escapes the Tory soldiers with a little luck, or was it more? Did the spirit of long dead Regina Silsby help her by thwarting their pursuit? Rachel uses the superstitious nature of the Redcoats against them, and the legend of Regina to help the patriot cause. MR – 5/7

Looking to stay with the Revolutionary War theme but branch out from Boston proper?  Check out the earlier post Patriotic Pigeon or find information at the National Park Service: Revolutionary War website.  Click on Revolutionary Parks  and Tour the Revolution to take a virtual tour of the Revolutionary era historic sites from Florida to Maine.


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Filed under 4th of July, American Revolution, History, military history, travel

T is for….

Two pig pals – one wants to explore the world and one prefers to stay home.

Toot (& Puddle) by Hollie Hobbie

A globe-trotter and a contented homebody are the best of friends.  One is always off indulging his passion for travel and the other is happily having a delightful time in his own backyard.  Toot and Puddle’s friendship endures despite their differences and each learns to appreciate the other’s way of life, proving there is a perfect place for everyone to call home. (PB)

tootandpuddleToot & Puddle  In a small house in Woodcock Pocket, Toot and Puddle live happily together.  Until Toot decides it is time to see the world and travel around the globe.  Puddle, however, prefers the quiet life of home.  This delightful picture book travels through a year, each month highlighting Toot’s adventures in exotic locations, as communicated via postcard to Puddle.  The facing page tells of Puddle’s exciting year at home, with all the seasonal joys to look forward to in your own backyard.  This lovely tale equally appreciates the wanderer and homebody in all of us.  A Paperback Pigeon All-Time Top 10 Favorite!

topoftheworldTop of the World   Toot’s wanderlust has gotten the better of him again!  When he doesn’t return in a timely manner from a walk, Puddle decides the only thing to do is to go after his dear friend.  Although traveling the world is out of his comfort zone, Puddle embarks on a journey of the utmost importance – the journey to find his very best friend.  Will he find Toot and when he does can he convince him to return home?

homeforchristmasI’ll Be Home for Christmas Toot is attending a family reunion in Scotland, but promises to make it home to Woodcock Pocket for Christmas.  Unfortunately a series of delays cause Toot to make some detours where he finds himself discovering the true spirit of the season.  Will he make it home in time to celebrate with Puddle?  With a little luck and some help from a very special friend, Toot finds his way home for Christmas

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Filed under A to Z, Picture Book, Pigs, travel

Q is for….

It wasn’t enough that his mom remarried, started a rock band, and is spending a year traveling the U.S. on a mega-tour – turns out his new stepsister has skeletons in her past that are threatening their new life just as they were settling in.  Another day on tour with..

I, Q by Roland Smith

Quest, known as Q, is glad his mom, Blaze, finally found happiness and love with Roger.  He isn’t quite so sure about the new lifestyle though.  Not only did Blaze and Roger get married they also collaborated musically and spawned a huge hit record.  Now Q, and his stepsister Angela (whom he is even less sure of), are spending a year off from school traveling the United States on a concert tour.  Unbeknownst to their parents, who are consumed by the tour, Angela and Q are being threatened by some mysterious characters from Angela’s past.  Adventure and intrigue are at every turn, and every mystery has Q and Angela exploring the coolest spots in each city they visit! (MR-5/6)

Qindependance HallI,Q: Independence Hall – Getting settled into his new lifestyle begins with a cross-country drive from California to Philadelphia in the luxury camper that Blaze and Roger have chosen as their family home for the next year.  Early in the trip things get strange. Are they being followed?  How did Boone, and old roadie friend of Blazes’, find them in the middle of the desert?  Who is he really?  Philadelphia has history at every turn, but it is Angela’s history that is the biggest mystery!  The first book in the series sets the scene for adventure to come across the country!

QwhitehouseThe White House– 24 hours in Washington, DC at the home of the President.  The intrigue and mystery just gets more exciting for Q and Angela, but so does the danger!



QkittyhawkKitty Hawk– The president’s daughter has been kidnapped and Q and Angela are part of the team working to save her.  They follow the trail to the Outer Banks -but will a freak storm ruin their chances?



QalamoThe Alamo – With a huge concert planned at the Alamo Q and Angela find themselves in the heart of Texas, and a the heart of another Ghost Cell attack.   Are they being chased across the country?  Or are they doing the chasing?  All is not as it seems as Q and Angela try to find out if they are the hunted or the hunters!


QWindycityThe Windy City – Q and Angela may have been thwarting international terrorism, but all their parents see is a lack of attention to their studies.  With the threat of boarding school, Q and Angela hit the books when they get to Chicago in order to avoid leaving the tour -which would mean leaving Boone and their work against the Ghost Cell.  But when Boone and the crew don’t make it to Chicago as planned Q and Angela know that there is a mole feeding information to the Ghost Cell.  Who is it?  And how do they stop the Ghost Cell’s next plot – a chemical attack on the Windy City?

QAlcatrazAlcatraz – Things have just become too intense and, although they plan to continue the tour, Blaze and Roger think it is time for Q and Angela to return home to San Francisco and attend boarding school.  It’s a race against time to find the leader of the terrorist cell before Q and Angela find themselves removed from the team hunting the Ghost Cell.

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Filed under A to Z, History, Middle Reader, mystery, North America, travel, United States

N is for….

Magical creatures are real…and your family is charged with protecting them from harm!

Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist Series by R.L. LaFevers

In 1928 Nathaniel Flood’s parents are lost at sea, and he is sent to live with his Aunt Phil, a renowned Beastologist.   As Nathaniel and Aunt Phil embark on amazing adventures he discovers first-hand the Fludd family legacy- to care for and protect magical creatures at all costs.    Nathaniel encounters gremlins, a dodo-bird, phoenix and more as he begins to understand the importance of his new position as a Beastologist-in-training.   A little bit history, a dash of magic, a commitment to family, and a good dose of mystery make Nathaniel Fludd a delightful magical hero for the pre-Harry Potter set! (ER-2/3)

nathanielfluddphoenixFlight of the Phoenix – In Nathaniel’s first adventure he barely has time to process the loss of his parents and adapt to his new home with Aunt Phil, the famous Beastologist, before he is whisked off to the Arabian desert to witness the birth of a Phoenix egg!    When Aunt Phil is kidnapped is Nathaniel up to the task of protecting the Phoenix egg?  Does he have what it takes to live up to his family name, and be a true Beastologist?  And was is wise to befriend a gremlin?  (Aunt Phil doesn’t think so!)

nathanielfluddbasiliskThe Basilisk’s Lair – Nathaniel is off to save a Dhughani village from a mysterious, missing, deadly serpent – a basilisk!  On top of this terrifying task, Nate and Aunt Phil must protect The Fludd Book of Beasts from a sinister thief.  And Nathaniel is convinced his parents disappearance isn’t what it seems – if only he can figure out how to find them.  Filled with non-stop adventure Nathaniel Fludd continues his Beastologist training, and with help from some friends, begins to discover his destiny.

nathanielfluddwyvernThe Wyverns’ Treasure – On their return to England Nathaniel and Aunt Phil discover their home has been ransacked!  Who could have done this?  Were they looking for the Book of Beasts?  No time to find out – Nate and Aunt Phil are off to Wales to help stop a Wyvern uprising.  Nate has to calm the giant dragons and restore order before he can figure out how to protect the family book.

nathanielfluddunicornThe Unicorn’s Tale – All Nate wants is to find his parents, who he is convinced are alive.  But Aunt Phil insists that Beastology takes precedence – and when a Unicorn becomes ill Nate must care for it.  And the mysterious evil man is still after them, the Book of Beasts, and the creatures they care for.  Will Nathaniel ever reunite his family and become a full Beastologist?

PBP Note: R.L. LaFevers is also the author of the Theodosia Throckmorton books- this unique heroine tackles mummies, ghosts, curses, and evil archaeologists in 1906 London.  This MR-4/5 series is a Paperback Pigeon All-Time Top 10 Favorite.

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