The matchless true-life travelogue of a 9-year-old’s trip to Borneo, co-authored by a mother-daughter writing team.
Nine-year-old Ali is less than thrilled when her parents announce that the whole family will be going to Borneo for their summer vacation. She doesn’t even know where Borneo is, and neither does her school librarian. Ali wonders why they can’t spend their summer on the beach in Florida, preferably staying at a hotel with decent toiletries and nightly chocolates on the pillow. However, Ali and her older brother, Zak, know all too well their former-hippie parents’ penchant for traveling to exotic locations to experience the way other people live. The trip to Borneo forces Ali to confront one of her biggest fears—flying—and unfortunately introduces her to new fears: bedbugs, leeches, kidnapping and being stuck in a stairwell. Despite her continued hope for a nice, luxurious hotel, Ali concedes that their experiences—whitewater rafting with natives, diving, hiking in the rain forest and staying in a treehouse—make the family’s atypical holiday worthwhile. Rollason’s naturally engaging writing style (perhaps assisted by her multipublished, academic mother) makes this a quick, enjoyable read, equally appealing to adults and slightly advanced younger readers. Similarly, the unattributed illustrations and black-and-white photographs add visual interest for younger readers and adults alike. Rollason, age 10 when the book was written, manages to be indulgently exasperated with her parents without the attitude an older child might express. She shares her perceptions of cultural differences and environmental descriptions in an unaffected manner, without being bogged down by research or too many facts. Leeches and bedbugs notwithstanding, the unique experiences shared in Borneo bring the family closer together. Allusions to headhunting in Borneo’s history, as well as that disturbing leech incident and an island of lost children, may make this memoir inappropriate as a read-aloud for younger children, but tweens of both genders will happily join the adventure.
Eat, Pray, Love for tweens.