U.S. readers who jump on a bus or walk a few blocks will marvel at what kids around the world will do to get an education.
In Canada, the child narrator helps his sisters onto the toboggan and then climbs on the snowmobile behind Grandpa. The four cross the frozen lake to the closest school, in Minnesota. In Bolivia, a teleférico connects two of the highest cities in the world, and it’s used daily by over 3,000 students. Other methods include a rickshaw (depicted here as a vehicle that looks like a cross between a jeep and an SUV) in Pakistan, a Japanese bullet train, and a motorbike (one adult and four children onboard!) in Cameroon. The Ethiopian and Ukrainian children face political and social dangers on their walks, and the rural Kenyan students must avoid Africa’s Big Five. Each journey’s description is allotted a double-page spread with a large illustration and the country’s flag. The sidebars at the edges, though, are often a jumble of unrelated facts that, though positive and possibly surprising to U.S. readers, add little. Many of the tales beg for more detail, and readers will feel the lack of a map and glossary. Backmatter includes a select bibliography of 49 resources and an update of some dangerous journeys previously broadcast on the internet. An authors’ note explains that the stories are composites and that they do not represent an entire country or even one specific season.
This will pique readers’ curiosity (and hopefully their gratitude at their privilege) but does not answer all the questions they will surely have. (Informational picture book. 5-10)